Donald School Journal of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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VOLUME 15 , ISSUE 2 ( April-June, 2021 ) > List of Articles


Cognitive Functions in Pregnant Women

Natalia Lesiewska, Maciej Bieliński

Keywords : Brain function, Cognitive functions, Depression, Gestational diabetes, Obesity, Preeclampsia, Pregnancy

Citation Information : Lesiewska N, Bieliński M. Cognitive Functions in Pregnant Women. Donald School J Ultrasound Obstet Gynecol 2021; 15 (2):203-214.

DOI: 10.5005/jp-journals-10009-1690

License: CC BY-NC 4.0

Published Online: 02-07-2021

Copyright Statement:  Copyright © 2021; The Author(s).


Aim: This review aims to analyze current evidence about how pregnancy and pathologies which occur during pregnancy may affect the function of a woman's brain, and how those changes may influence cognitive functioning. Background: During pregnancy occur adaptive changes in a woman's body which are necessary for proper fetal development. Pregnancy also induces structural and functional alterations within the brain. Cognitive functions are the group of mental processes responsible for learning or information processing; hence, their proper function is essential in daily living and achieving set goals. Literature shows evidence of deleterious effects on cognitive functions caused by conditions such as diabetes mellitus, hypertension, obesity, or depression within the group on nonpregnant individuals. There are also studies evaluating cognitive functions in pregnancy complicated with various diseases (including pregnancy-related ones). Review results: Gathered publications show mixed results regarding cognitive functions in pregnancy and diseases associated with pregnancy. Results indicate a poorer function of cognitive domains in pregnant women, in contrast to nonpregnant ones, which may correlate with hormone levels. Regarding hypertensive disorders, data provide evidence of worse cognitive processing and greater risk of dementia in women with preeclampsia. The literature lacks evidence about the influence on cognition in women with gestational diabetes; however, diabetes mellitus show strong correlations with cognitive deterioration putatively associated with glucose metabolism dysfunction. Obese individuals show a decline in many cognitive domains, which may predispose them to further weight gain. Depression is associated with poorer cognitive performance; however, anxiety and depressive states may be responsible for subjective cognitive dysfunction during pregnancy. Conclusion: Research shows mixed results regarding the connection between cognition and both pregnancy-related diseases, which may stem from a lack of properly designed studies. Clinical significance: More research about cognitive functions and pregnancy is needed due to the growing prevalence of the abovementioned diseases and their harmful effect on brain function even long after delivery.

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