The effect of pregnancy on maternal cognition

Sci Rep. 2021 Jun 9;11(1):12187. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-91504-9.


To determine whether there are differences in measures of cognitive function between second and third trimester pregnant women compared to non-pregnant controls. This prospective study comprised 40 pregnant and 40 non-pregnant women, 20-40 years old, native-Hebrew speakers who were recruited from the outpatient clinics during a period of nearly 2 years. The patients underwent cognitive and affective evaluation. The performance on the three following tests: difficult and total items of Verbal Paired Associates, the Digit Span-forward and the Naming Objects and Fingers test scores were significantly better among non- pregnant women. All the other test results were similar between the two groups, including the depression scores. On multivariate linear regression analysis, after adjusting for age and years of education , Verbal Paired Associates total score (p = 0.04), and Naming Objects and Fingers (p = 0.01) remained significantly associated with pregnancy, but not Digit Span (p = 0.09). Our study demonstrates an impairment in memory among pregnant women. Furthermore language skills, particularly naming, were also impaired, a finding which has not been previously described.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cognition Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Cognition Disorders / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Israel / epidemiology
  • Language*
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prospective Studies
  • Young Adult