• Cord blood;
  • cytokines;
  • depression;
  • neonatal immune function;
  • premature birth;
  • psychoneuroimmunology

Problem  This study investigates whether affectivity differs between mothers delivering preterm and term and whether maternal and umbilical cord serum cytokines differ between these groups. Further, whether there are associations between mothers’ emotions and maternal and cord cytokines at preterm and term birth.

Method of study  Twenty-seven mothers delivering preterm and 37 mothers delivering at term reported positive/negative affect and previous depressive symptoms during pregnancy. Blood samples from mothers in labor and cord samples (23 preterm and 33 term) were analyzed for cytokines.

Results  Maternal IL-8 was lower at preterm delivery compared with term. In the preterm group only, associations were found between negative emotions and maternal IL-6, IL-8 and cord IL-6, IL-8, IL-10, IL-13, and IL-18.

Conclusion  The findings indicate associations in preterm delivery between negative emotions and both maternal and neonate immune activity. Future studies should investigate whether such associations are part of the etiology of preterm delivery.