Maternal depressive symptoms linked to reduced fecal Immunoglobulin A concentrations in infants Journal Articles uri icon

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  • Secretory Immunoglobulin A (sIgA) plays a critical role to infant gut mucosal immunity. Delayed IgA production is associated with greater risk of allergic disease. Murine models of stressful events during pregnancy and infancy show alterations in gut immunity and microbial composition in offspring, but little is known about the stress-microbiome-immunity pathways in humans. We investigated differences in infant fecal sIgA concentrations according to the presence of maternal depressive symptoms during and after pregnancy. A subsample of 403 term infants from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) cohort were studied. Their mothers completed the Center of Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale when enrolled prenatally and again postpartum. Quantified by Immundiagnostik sIgA ELISA kit, sIgA from infant stool was compared across maternal depressive symptom categories using Mann-Whitney U-tests and logistic regression models that controlled for various covariates. Twelve percent of women reported clinically significant depressive symptoms only prenatally, 8.7% had only postpartum symptoms and 9.2% had symptoms both pre and postnatally. Infants born to mothers with pre and postnatal symptoms had significantly lower median sIgA concentrations than those in the reference group (4.4 mg/g feces vs. 6.3 mg/g feces; p = 0.033). The odds for sIgA concentrations in the lowest quartile was threefold higher (95% CI: 1.25-7.55) when mothers had pre and postnatal symptoms, after controlling for breastfeeding status, infant age, antibiotics exposure and other covariates. Postnatal symptoms were not associated with fecal sIgA, independently of breastfeeding status. Infants born to mothers with depressive symptoms appear to have lower fecal sIgA concentrations, predisposing them to higher risk for allergic disease.


  • Kang, Liane J
  • Koleva, Petya T
  • Field, Catherine J
  • Giesbrecht, Gerald F
  • Wine, Eytan
  • Becker, Allan B
  • Mandhane, Piushkumar J
  • Turvey, Stuart E
  • Subbarao, Padmaja
  • Sears, Malcolm R
  • Scott, James A
  • Kozyrskyj, Anita L

publication date

  • February 2018

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