Does Pregnancy Impair Memory?

Contributed by: Dennis Fortier, President, Medical Care Corporation

While I don't often see news stories reporting that pregnancy impairs memory, there does seem to be a generally accepted notion that pregnant women and mothers of newborn children suffer the malady. Many of you, I suspect, may be familiar with terms such as "baby-brain" and "momnesia".

A study this week in the British Journal of Psychiatry contradicts the hearsay. In the study, 806 women between the ages of 20 and 24 were recruited and followed for up to eight years. Memory and cognition were assessed at various points and results were compared between those who were mothers, those who were pregnant, and those who were nulliparous. Importantly, no significant cognitive change was noted as a function of motherhood nor pregnancy.

While it is plausible that pregnant women have concerns and distractions that could prevent them from storing information that they might otherwise retain, and mothers of young children might have interrupted sleep patterns that could affect their alertness or processing speed, there does not appear to be a deeper, underlying association between pregnancy and perceived memory loss.


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