According to a study published in the 2017 February edition of the Elsevier Science journal Brain, Behaviour and Immunity, your baby’s sex is associated to your immunity! The gender of your unborn child is linked with the immune responses you engender when pregnant.
Researchers have discovered that upon exposure to bacteria, the immune cells of those women pregnant with girls produced a greater and stronger pro-inflammatory response than the immune cells of women pregnant with boys. What does this mean? Well, a pro-inflammatory mode means your body is prone to producing inflammation, which can make you even more susceptible to falling ill.
This study investigated close to 80 soon-to-be mommies for the entire duration of their pregnancy. The authors of the study then proceeded to examine the blood work of the women in order to gauge if they presented with differing levels of ‘cytokines’ (read: immune markers), based on the sex of their fetus.
The study’s lead investigator, Amanda Mitchell, is currently a postdoctoral researcher at the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center. Mitchell states that though the study she and her colleagues conducted didn’t exactly reveal the differences, they hoped to expose, unexpectedly the study revealed something even more interesting.
“While women didn’t exhibit differences in blood cytokine levels based on fetal sex, we did find that the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses produced more pro-inflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacteria,” says Mitchell. “This means that women carrying female fetuses exhibited a heightened inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged, compared to women carrying male fetuses.”
What Could This Mean For You?
“This research helps women and their obstetricians recognize that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman’s body responds to everyday immune challenges such as wound healing and responses to viruses and bacteria,” states Mitchell.
One of the mothers, who happened to participate in the study, Melissa Fox, narrates she, was carrying a girl, her second child, at the time of the investigation. During her childhood, Melissa often suffered from several allergies, but in her adult years, she discovered that her allergies had disappeared.
But during the course of her pregnancy with her daughter Wren, those very same sensitivities returned with a take-no-prisoners attitude. “When I was pregnant with Wren, that’s when I noticed they seemed like they were kicking up and flaring up again, where I was having to take something on a daily basis,” says Melissa.
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