Impacts on Prenatal and Postnatal Mental Health in COVID-19

In this study, the Canadian researchers analyzed the prenatal and postnatal stress and depression in mothers and infant motor outcomes in two months of birth during this pandemic through a survey that is online only. Eligible participants are 18 to 55 years of age and multiple or single pregnant women who can read and write English, with internet connection at any stage of pregnancy.

About 1,185 eligible pregnant women residing in the United Kingdom (UK), Canada, India, United States (US) and several other nations of Europe, Asia and South America were enrolled for the study from May 2020 to March 2021. Every subject was to give a written informed consent form online before enrolling.

The online questionnaire was obtained by Qualtrics in two time stamps: (a) any time during pregnancy and (b) within two months of delivery. In the early stages, data on subject age, gender, country of residence, occupation, education and mental and physical health were collected using the survey form. For the second time, the data obtained from the questionnaire were on maternal mental health after childbirth and on newborns’ birth weight, gestational age and motor development.

The participants self-reported the stress and depression levels and the mothers reported the newborns’ fine and not fine motor ability.

The results indicate that of the 1,185 eligible subjects, 117 completed the online prospective survey questionnaire at both time stamps. The results indicate that the perceived depression and stress levels were lower during the postnatal period compared to the prenatal period.

Furthermore, normal birth weight and term infants born to mothers who report elevated symptoms of depression during pregnancy and postpartum are also associated with impaired motor functions. These observations suggest that a combination of birth factors, such as preterm birth and low birth weight, and maternal perinatal depression may be associated with higher risks of abnormal development in newborns.

This was the first study to examine the impact of maternal mental health on the motor development of babies during the pandemic. These study findings show that while prenatal and postnatal depressions in mothers predicted the motor outcomes of newborns during the initial two months of life, stress observed in mothers during and after gestation did not forecast the motor ability of infants during this period. Low birth weight and premature infants of mothers who reported high depressive symptoms during and following the gestational period were associated potentially with an increased risk of poor motor outcomes.

The correlation of perinatal depression in mothers with poor motor development of infants demonstrated in the present study was in line with the previous reports. Since the impact of the poor relationship between depressed mothers and newborns on the impaired motor development of the babies was not evaluated in the current study, this has to be explored in future research.

Although previous studies have reported the negative impact of perinatal maternal stress on the motor outcomes of neonates, the present study did not find this correlation. This observation might be because the trimester period was not an important covariate in the current study, and hence it may have failed to capture the high pregnancy-related stress during the later stages of gestation that are associated with the worse motor outcomes of infants.

Furthermore, the present study only studied the newborns for zero to two months of age, which could be too early to detect the impact of maternal stress on their motor development. Therefore, further investigations are needed to evaluate the study the perceived perinatal stress on the motor outcomes of the babies for longer durations of time.

Source: Medindia

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