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J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2014;36(5):528-39. doi: 10.1080/13803395.2014.912614. Epub 2014 May 12.

How do memory and attention change with pregnancy and childbirth? A controlled longitudinal examination of neuropsychological functioning in pregnant and postpartum women.

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a Department of Psychology , Brigham Young University , Provo , UT , USA.


Current literature on cognitive functioning in pregnancy and postpartum is mixed, with most research showing deficits in memory and attention during pregnancy or no difference between pregnant participants and controls with little emphasis on the postpartum period. In the current study, we used a longitudinal controlled design and 42 primarily not depressed participants to compare pregnant women in the third trimester and approximately three months postpartum with matched controls over the same time period on neuropsychological domains including memory, attention, learning, visuospatial, and executive functioning. We also evaluated the role of mood and quality of life as potential moderators of cognitive functioning in pregnancy/postpartum. Results indicated no differences between controls and pregnant/postpartum women on neuropsychological measures at any time points. Self-reported memory difficulties, however, were higher in the pregnant/postpartum women. Pregnant and postpartum women had worse self-reported mood and quality of life than controls. Mood and quality of life slightly moderated specific measures of attention and verbal fluency; however, neither mood nor quality of life moderated overall neuropsychological functioning in either group. Number of previous pregnancies had no effect on the study findings. Results suggest differences in subjective memory complaints, but no differences in objective neuropsychological test results between controls and pregnant/postpartum women who are primarily not diagnosed with depression.


Attention; Cognition; Memory; Mood; Neuropsychology; Postpartum; Pregnancy

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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