Baby gender could affect pregnancy symptoms

The gender of their baby could have an impact on the symptoms women go through during pregnancy, a new study has suggested. 

Research from the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Centre looked at the immune responses of pregnant women, looking to see if different levels of immune markers (cytokines) were displayed depending on their baby’s sex.

The findings, published in the February issue of the Brain, Behaviour and Immunity journal, found the immune cells of women carrying female fetuses developed a higher number of pro-inflammatory cytokines when exposed to bacteria compared to those pregnant with a boy. This led to an increased inflammatory response at times when their immune system was challenged.

Although more research is required, the authors of the study believe that the heightened inflammation suffered by those carrying female babies could have an impact on why some women go through worse symptoms during pregnancy. 

Amanda Mitchell, a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Behavioral Medicine Research at Ohio State's Wexner Medical Centre, said: “This research helps women and their obstetricians recognise that fetal sex is one factor that may impact how a woman's body responds to everyday immune challenges.”

Ms Mitchell added that, although it is known how maternal inflammation impacts the timing of birth and other processes, more work is required to identify how fetal sex is linked to it. She suggested that hormones in the placenta may also have a role to play in higher maternal inflammation levels. 

She went on to advise that supporting a healthy immune function is important, though it is not recommended to have either “too little or too great” an immune system and any significant changes to a routine or diet must be discussed with a healthcare specialist. 

However, healthy foods and exercise can help to improve the immune response of women, Ms Mitchell advisedADNFCR-2094-ID-801832531-ADNFCR