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Biochemical effects of toxic stress and its effect on inflammation during pregnancy

Ekeke, Paris (2020) Biochemical effects of toxic stress and its effect on inflammation during pregnancy. Master's Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

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Toxic stress is characterized by physical, psychological, and environmental stress that is detrimental to one’s health. The stress pathway is believed to be involved in preterm birth via inflammatory and immunologic dysregulation. We conducted a cross-sectional study on female participants aged 15-45 years old who delivered a live, singleton infant at Magee Women’s Hospital in Pittsburgh, PA. Each participant was assessed for risk of toxic stress using a combination of individual level factors and neighborhood deprivation scores and subsequently assigned a risk group. We hypothesized that levels of pro-inflammatory and anti-inflammatory cytokines in the first trimester differ by risk group and race. We found that Black females were more likely to be at risk for toxic stress and had lower median levels of IL-6 compared to White females. When stratified by risk group and race, low risk Black females had lower levels of IL-10 compared to low risk White females and high-risk Black females had lower levels of IL-6 compared to high-risk White females. Our results suggest the relationship between toxic stress and inflammatory cytokines is modified by race. It is our theory that exposure to repetitive stress due to racism and lifelong social disadvantage, results in desensitization of the stress pathway and a blunted adaptive response to future stressors. Understanding the mechanisms involved in the disparities in preterm birth are of the upmost public health significance.


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Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Ekeke, Parispsk17@pitt.edupsk17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Thesis AdvisorCatov,
Committee MemberMendez,
Committee MemberYanowitz,
Date: 29 January 2020
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 3 December 2019
Approval Date: 29 January 2020
Submission Date: 13 November 2019
Access Restriction: 2 year -- Restrict access to University of Pittsburgh for a period of 2 years.
Number of Pages: 58
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Graduate School of Public Health > Epidemiology
Degree: MS - Master of Science
Thesis Type: Master's Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Toxic stress preterm racism
Date Deposited: 29 Jan 2020 19:24
Last Modified: 01 Jan 2022 06:15

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