A review of the impact of pregnancy on memory function

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2007 Nov;29(8):793-803. doi: 10.1080/13803390701612209.


Although until recently much of the evidence for pregnancy-related deficits in memory was anecdotal or based on self-report, a number of studies have now been conducted that have tested whether these subjective appraisals of memory difficulties reflect objective impairment. However, these studies have failed to yield consistent results. A meta-analysis of the 14 studies that have been conducted over the past 17 years comparing pregnant and/or postpartum women with healthy matched controls on behavioral measures of memory was conducted. The results indicate that pregnant women are significantly impaired on some, but not all, measures of memory, and, specifically, memory measures that place relatively high demands on executive cognitive control may be selectively disrupted. The same specific deficits associated with pregnancy are also observed postpartum. These findings highlight the need for exploration of the etiologies and functional consequences of pregnancy-related memory difficulties and may help to guide the interpretation of neuropsychological data for the purpose of determining cognitive status in individuals who are pregnant or postpartum.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • Memory / physiology*
  • Memory Disorders / etiology*
  • Memory Disorders / psychology
  • Postpartum Period / physiology
  • Postpartum Period / psychology*
  • Pregnancy / psychology*
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*