Objective: The effects of prenatal yoga on biological indicators have not been widely studied. Thus, we compared changes in stress and immunity salivary biomarkers from 16 to 36 weeks' gestation between women receiving prenatal yoga and those receiving routine prenatal care.
Design: For this longitudinal, prospective, randomized controlled trial, we recruited 94 healthy pregnant women at 16 weeks' gestation through convenience sampling from a prenatal clinic in Taipei. Participants were randomly assigned to intervention (n=48) or control (n=46) groups using Clinstat block randomization.
Intervention: The 20-week intervention comprised two weekly 70-min yoga sessions led by a midwife certified as a yoga instructor; the control group received only routine prenatal care.
Main outcome measures: In both groups, participants' salivary cortisol and immunoglobulin A levels were collected before and after yoga every 4 weeks from 16 to 36 weeks' gestation.
Results: The intervention group had lower salivary cortisol (p<0.001) and higher immunoglobulin A (p<0.001) levels immediately after yoga than the control group. Specifically, the intervention group had significantly higher long-term salivary immunoglobulin A levels than the control group (p=0.018), and infants born to women in the intervention group weighed more than those born to the control group (p<0.001).
Conclusion: Prenatal yoga significantly reduced pregnant women's stress and enhanced their immune function. Clinicians should learn the mechanisms of yoga and its effects on pregnant women. Our findings can guide clinicians to help pregnant women alleviate their stress and enhance their immune function.
Keywords: Immune function; Immunoglobulin A; Prenatal yoga; Salivary cortisol; Stress.
Copyright © 2017. Published by Elsevier Ltd.