Researchers from Weill Cornell Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, and Columbia University Irving Medical Center have found that the immune systems of pregnant women with anxiety are different from those of pregnant women without anxiety.
The research, released in the journal Brain, Behavior, and Immunity, shows that pregnant women with anxiety have more cytotoxic T cells, which attack infected or otherwise damaged cells in the body. Immune markers in the blood of women with anxiety also worked differently than those of women without anxiety.
This is the first study that we know of to look at the link between anxiety and how the immune system changes during pregnancy and after birth.
According to the study: “Pregnant women (n = 107) were followed prospectively at 2nd and 3rd trimesters (T2, T3) and 6 weeks postpartum (PP6). Each visit included a blood draw and psychological evaluation, with clinical anxiety assessed using the Spielberg State-Trait Anxiety Scale. We enrolled both healthy controls and participants with anxiety alone; those with comorbid depression were excluded.”
“These data suggest that the immune response throughout the antenatal period differs for women with anxiety symptoms compared to those without, suggestive of a unique immune phenotype of perinatal anxiety.”