"Baby Brain" Is Real: Pregnancy and How it Affects the Brain

Khryss | Published 2018-01-29 16:16

Pregnancy is notorious for having all sorts of strange effects on the body. We've known the good 'ol morning sickness or even the heightened sense of smell. And now, we're about to delve into what's called baby brain or having lower levels of cognitive function.

Researchers at Deakin University, Australia looked into 20 different studies on the relationship between pregnancy and cognitive function. Having 709 pregnant women and 521 non-pregnant women altogether, they found that generally, cognitive functioning and memory were way worse among pregnant women.

"General cognitive functioning, memory, and executive functioning were significantly reduced during the third trimester of pregnancy (compared with control women), but not during the first two trimesters," the authors wrote in their paper. “The differences primarily develop during the first trimester, and are consistent with recent findings of long-term reductions in brain grey matter volume during pregnancy," the researchers concluded. "The impact of these effects on the quality of life and everyday functioning of pregnant women requires further investigation.”

The behavioral changes, however, are usually small and are mainly noticed by the women themselves or perhaps their close friends and family, as they manifest "mainly as minor memory lapses (e.g., forgetting or failing to book medical appointments)."

While this confirmed the memory problems pregnant women face, it is still uncertain how significant is its effect on their day-to-day functioning and quality of life. But to keep expectant mommies at ease, co-author Linda Byrne noted that "performance remained within the normal ranges of general cognitive functioning and memory."


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