Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California

UC Irvine

UC Irvine Previously Published Works bannerUC Irvine

Maternal Stress Potentiates the Effect of an Inflammatory Diet in Pregnancy on Maternal Concentrations of Tumor Necrosis Factor Alpha.


Maternal inflammation during pregnancy is known to adversely impact fetal development, birth outcomes, and offspring physical and mental health. Diet and stress have been identified as important determinants of inflammation, yet their combined effects have not been examined in the context of pregnancy. The aim of this study was to examine the relationship between maternal diet with inflammatory potential and psychological stress, and to determine their interaction effect on concentrations of tumor necrosis factor (TNF)-α across pregnancy. We conducted a prospective longitudinal study of n = 202 women with three assessments during pregnancy, which included: ecological momentary assessment (EMA) of maternal stress using the perceived stress scale (PSS) short version; 24-h dietary recalls from which the dietary inflammatory index (DII) was computed; and serum measurements of TNF-α. Across pregnancy, higher perceived stress was associated with consumption of a more pro-inflammatory diet (r = 0.137; p < 0.05). In a linear regression model adjusted for covariates, DII was positively associated with TNF-α (B = 0.093, p = 0.010). The effect of the pro-inflammatory diet on concentrations of TNF-α was more pronounced in women reporting higher levels of stress (B = 0.134, p = 0.018 for DII*PSS interaction). These results highlight the need to consider nutrition and stress concurrently in the context of inflammation during pregnancy.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Main Content
For improved accessibility of PDF content, download the file to your device.
Current View