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Family 411: The study of 'maternal immune response'

Expecting moms with chronic conditions like asthma and allergies could benefit from new research on 'maternal immune response.'

A study shows such conditions will act up during pregnancy depending on the sex of the baby.

KTVO's sister station WSYX's Tara Morgan was with one mom who found it to be true in this week's Family 411 report.

Melissa Fox beams at her baby girl, Wren.

She wonders if one day she'll struggle with seasonal allergies and asthma.

Melissa grew up with both.

"I had terrible allergies as a child growing up to the point where I had to get injections."

Her allergies returned with a vengeance during her pregnancy with Wren.

"I actually had an increase in my allergies during the normal allergy season. They flared up so badly, I was having to take something every day."

Something she didn't see while pregnant with Wren's brother, Falcon.

"I barely had to take anything."

Melissa was among 80 women in a study of primarily healthy pregnant women.

"I believe I was about 18 weeks or so along."

Researcher Amanda Mitchell says part of it reviewed immune cells when exposed to bacteria during women's first, second and third trimesters.

"Women carrying a baby girl, when exposed to some sort of immune challenge, exhibited a greater inflammatory response than women carrying a baby boy."

Like what Melissa experience while carrying Wren.

"I had more issues with shortness of breath, which I thought it was flaring up my asthma a little bit."

Mitchell says inflammation is critical for immune response in wound healing and reaction to viruses, but excessive inflammation is stressful to the body.

A repeat study would be needed to help doctors care for pregnant women in the future.

"But then only within a population of women who have asthma and that way, we can say 'okay, is it that inflammation really higher in the women with baby girls who have asthma?'"

Right now, Melissa's main focus is the health of her two little ones.

"As a mother all you want is for your child to be healthy and happy. So I think it'll be good though, to be aware of those things."

Future studies would also be needed to see how the findings relate to the health of an unborn child.

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