Relationships Among Psychosocial Factors, Biomarkers, Preeclampsia, and Preterm Birth in African American Women: A Pilot

Appl Nurs Res. 2015 Feb;28(1):e1-6. doi: 10.1016/j.apnr.2014.09.002. Epub 2014 Sep 16.


Aim: To explore the relationships among psychosocial factors (optimism, uncertainty, social support, coping, psychological distress), biomarkers (cortisol, cytokines), preeclampsia, and preterm birth in African American women.

Methods: Forty-nine pregnant African American women completed psychosocial questionnaires and had blood collected for biomarkers between 26 and 36 weeks of gestation. Birth outcomes were obtained from birth records.

Results: Women reporting higher levels of social support had lower levels of pro-inflammatory cytokines (IL-2, IL-5, and IL-6). Surprisingly, compared with low-risk pregnant women, women diagnosed with preeclampsia reported more optimism and less avoidance, and had lower levels of cortisol and IFN-γ. Similarly, compared to women with full-term birth, women with preterm birth reported higher levels of optimism and lower levels of avoidance, and had lower levels of IL-10.

Conclusion: Psychosocial factors influence inflammation and pregnancy outcomes. Close assessment and monitoring of psychosocial factors may contribute to improved pregnancy outcomes.

Keywords: Cytokines; Preeclampsia; Preterm birth; Stress.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • African Americans* / psychology
  • Biomarkers / analysis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Pilot Projects
  • Pre-Eclampsia / epidemiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / epidemiology*
  • Psychology


  • Biomarkers