Study: Baby’s Sex May Affect Mother’s Immunity

babys-sex-makes-difference-in-mamas-immune-systemOld wives’ tales would have you believe that if you are craving sweets, you’re having a girl, and if you carry your weight in front your are having a boy (neither true for me). It turns out that science is backing up the claim that the gender of your baby does make your body react differently.

New research published in the Brain, Behavior and Immunity Journal shows that there is a direct link between a baby’s sex and Mama’s immune system functions during pregnancy.

Researchers from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center looked at the different levels of immune markers called cytokines based on the sex of the baby in 80 pregnant women.

What they found was that though women didn’t seem to have different cytokine levels dependent on the sex of the baby they were carrying, the immune cells of women carrying girls reacted differently than those carrying boys. Women carrying girls also exhibited greater inflammatory response when their immune system was challenged compared to women who were carrying boys.

Related: Chinese Gender Prediction for Baby: How accurate is it?

Amanda Mitchell, principal researcher in the study, said that though more research is needed, the fact that women carrying girls seem to have heightened inflammatory responses when their immune systems are under attack could make a big difference to the way women and doctors treat issues like asthma and allergies during pregnancy, among other things.

While a healthy immune system is important, and a heightened immune system may seem like it’d be even better than a typical one, too much of an immune response (as in the case with allergic reactions or many autoimmune disorders like lupus or celiac) can present its own set of serious issues.

The new evidence supporting fetal sex impacting a woman’s immune response to everyday challenges can also lead to more research on how differences in fetal sex and immune response can be when exposed to different viruses, infections or other chronic health situations. This may also lead to more research on understanding the very evident association between maternal inflammatory response and fetal sex.

Related: 3 Easy Ways to Boost Your Family’s Immunity and Avoid a Summer Cold

Overall, it’s important that a mother’s immune system functions appropriately (not too much or too little) and so Mitchell promotes following a diet approved by your healthcare provider when looking at what to do do support a healthy immune system, as well as exercising (doctor-approved) or relaxing activities like listening to music or meditation.

Photo Credit: Jerry Lai/Flickr


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