University Research Shows “Pregnancy Brain” Is a Myth

pregnancySome women report that they have lessened intellectual abilities while pregnant or after giving birth. But researchers at Brigham Young University have conducted research that shows that so-called “pregnancy brain” is a myth.

The researchers gave a series of cognitive ability tests to women in their third trimester of pregnancy and again three to six months after they gave birth. The testing measured memory, thinking, organization, and spatial skills. The results showed that the mothers performed just as well on the tests as a control group of women who did not give birth. But in surveys, pregnant and postpartum women consistently rated their memories and cognitive skills lower than women who did not give birth.

Michael Larson, lead author of the study, stated that “this feeling of ‘I really am doing badly right now’ exists despite the objective evidence that they aren’t.” Dr. Larson says that pregnant and postpartum women might benefit that perceived forgetfulness and lower mental capability is only fiction. “It might improve their quality of life. They may start believing in themselves.”

The study, “How Do Memory and Attention Change With Pregnancy and Childbirth? A Controlled Longitudinal Examination of Neuropsychological Functioning in Pregnant and Postpartum Women,” was published in The Journal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology. It may be accessed here.

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