During pregnancy, many women complain that they feel more forgetful or less sharp than before their pregnancy.

Fact or fiction?

Four tests were selected from the Cambridge Neuropsychological Automated Test Battery (CANTAB) and administered to assess the cognitive functioning of a group of 23 women during each trimester of pregnancy and at three months postpartum. Test scores were compared with a control group of 24 non-pregnant women. The Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale was administered to assess anxiety and risk of depression.  Plasma hormone levels were measured at each time point.  This study demonstrated that spatial recognition memory (SRM) performance is adversely affected by pregnancy. Other aspects of executive function seem to be unaffected.  Test scores did not correlate with hormone levels.  Although the pregnant group reported more symptoms of anxiety and depression than the control group, these symptoms were not responsible for the differences in SRM.

Farrar D, Tuffnell D, Neill J, Scally A, Marshall K.  Assessment of cognitive function across pregnancy using CANTAB: A longitudinal study.  Brain Cogn. 2013 Dec 6; 84(1):76-84.

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