Maternal depression and risk for postpartum complications: role of prenatal corticotropin-releasing hormone and interleukin-1 receptor antagonist

Behav Med. 1999 Summer;25(2):88-94. doi: 10.1080/08964289909595741.


The pregnancies of 58 healthy adolescents (ages 13 to 19 years) were followed to examine links between symptoms of depression, corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH), interleukin-1 beta, (IL-1 beta), and IL-1 receptor antagonist (IL-1ra) as possible predictors of maternal and infant outcomes. Maternal psychological adjustment and medical complications during gestation, labor, delivery, and the postpartum period were monitored. Plasma samples collected during gestation were assayed for CRH, IL-1 beta, and IL-1ra. During gestation, symptoms of maternal depression were found to be associated with lower levels of CRH; lower levels of CRH were associated with lower levels of IL-1ra. In addition, lower levels of IL-1ra predicted higher rates of maternal complications after childbirth. IL-1 beta, detected in only 4 mothers, was not associated with any predictor or outcome measures. During gestation, CRH may induce circulating cytokine inhibitors without significantly affecting cytokine production or synthesis. Maternal symptoms of depression during gestation may attenuate the association between CRH and IL-1ra.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone / blood*
  • Depression, Postpartum / blood*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-1 / blood*
  • Male
  • Maternal Behavior / psychology*
  • Mothers / psychology*
  • Obstetric Labor Complications
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / antagonists & inhibitors*
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1 / blood*
  • Risk Factors


  • Interleukin-1
  • Receptors, Interleukin-1
  • Corticotropin-Releasing Hormone