What are the consequences of COVID-19-related stress experienced during pregnancy?
The COVID-19 emergency represents an unprecedented global healthcare crisis. The psychological impact of this pandemic should not be underestimated and this may be especially true for individuals who cope with this adverse experience during sensitive periods. Pregnancy is such a sensitive time window that is dramatically open to environmental stimulations, for bad and for good. Stress experienced by women during pregnancy may increase the risk of maternal postnatal affective disorders (e.g., depression, anxiety) and may contribute to less-than-optimal outcomes for infants development (e.g., behavioral and emotional dysregulation).
In April 2020, at the IRCCS Mondino Foundation (Pavia, Italy) we officialy launched the MOM-COPE (Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-19-related Prenatal Exposure) research project. This study involves 10 neonatal units in Northern Italy and will allow to collect information on (a) the extent of perceived stress by pregnant women during the COVID-19 emergency, (b) the consequences of this adverse experience on women's psychological health and infants' development from birth to 12 months, and (c) the potential epigenetic mechanisms that may underlie the association between COVID-related stress during pregnancy and less-than-optimal outcomes for both mothers and infants.
The protocol of the MOM-COPE research project is now published Open Access in BMJ Open and you may find it here. The study is ongoing and publications on the original data from the MOM-COPE study will follow in 2021.
The MOM-COPE research project is also registered in the NIH registry (NCT03853564).
Full reference: Provenzi L, Grumi S, Giorda R, Biasucci G, Bonini R, Cavallini A, Decembrino L, Drera B, Falcone R, Fazzi E, Gardella B, Giacchero R, Nacinovich R, Pisoni C, Prefumo F, Scelsa B, Spartà MV, Veggiotti P, Orcesi S, Borgatti R, MOM-COPE Study Group. Measuring the Outcomes of Maternal COVID-1-related Prenatal Exposure (MOM-COPE): Study protocol for a multicentric longitudinal project. BMJ Open, 10, e044585.