Pregnancy & lifespan health

We believe that healthy development begins in utero. We are studying all the influences on child development ("the exposome") that start during pregnancy, including the health and well-being of mothers.

In a recent paper published in Psychiatry Research, we investigated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pregnant women. Specifically, in collaboration with colleagues at CHOP and Penn Psychiatry, we addressed the issue that the COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted the well-being of vulnerable populations in the US, including Black people. The impact on pregnant women is of special concern for the intrauterine and post-natal development of their offspring. We evaluated in an online survey a sample of 913 pregnant women, 216 Black, 571 White, 126 Other, during a 2-week stay-at-home mandate in the Philadelphia region. We applied logistic regression models and analysis of covariance to examine general and pregnancy-specific worries and negative consequences arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, symptoms of anxiety and depression, and resilience. Black pregnant women reported greater likelihood of having their employment negatively impacted, more concerns about a lasting economic burden, and more worries about their prenatal care, birth experience, and post-natal needs. In the full sample, 11.1% of women met screening criteria for anxiety and 9.9% met criteria for depression. Black women were more likely to meet criteria for depression than White women, but this difference was not significant accounting for covariates. Resilience factors including self-reliance and emotion regulation were higher in Black women. Racial disparities related to COVID-19 in pregnant women can advance the understanding of pregnancy related stressors and improve early identification of mental health needs.

Gur, R., White, L., Waller, R., Barzilay, R., Moore, T., Kornfield, S., Njoroge, W., Chaiyachati, B., Parish-Morris, J., Maayan, L., Himes, M., Laney, N., Simonette, K., Duncan, A., Riis, V., & Elovitz, M. (2020). The Disproportionate Burden of the COVID-19 Pandemic Among Pregnant Black Women. Psychiatry Research, 293, 113475