Pregnancy doesn't affect women's memory




Pregnancy and motherhood does not affect a woman's memory, causing forgetfulness and absentmindedness, as is popularly believed. Research finds no evidence that pregnancy or motherhood affects women's brain power. The research team, led by Helen Christensen, professor at the Centre for Mental Health Research, Australian National University (ANU), recruited 1,241 women aged 20-24 years and assessed their cognitive functioning. Four areas of cognition were assessed: cognitive speed, working memory, and immediate and delayed recall.

The group of women were followed up at four-year intervals in 2003 and 2007 and given the same cognitive tests. Researchers found no significant differences in cognitive change for those women who were pregnant during the assessments and those who were not. Besides, there were no significant differences between those women who had become mothers and those who had not. This led them to conclude that neither pregnancy nor motherhood have a detrimental effect on women's cognitive capacity - a finding that directly contradicts previous studies. The researchers suggest that previous studies may be biased, either because they recruited women who were already anxious about the effect of pregnancy on their memory, or who were more depressed or sleep deprived. Additionally, this study recruited women prior to pregnancy, so cognitive function had already been tested before they became parents or mothers, said an ANU release. "Not so long ago, pregnancy was 'confinement' and motherhood meant the end of career aspirations. Our results show that mothers are the intellectual equal of their contemporaries," said Christensen.

The study was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry




Scroll to Top
Directorate of Social Welfare.
Powered by C-DIT