High maternal stress, prenatal COVID-19 infection may affect attention span in infants: study

LOS ANGELES, Sept. 27 (Xinhua) -- For mothers who experience high stress during their pregnancy, prenatal COVID-19 infection may be associated with an increased risk for impaired attention and delayed socioemotional and cognitive functioning in their infants, according to a new study published on Wednesday.

The study, published in Pediatric Research, included 167 mothers and their infants. The findings show maternal psychosocial stress and COVID-19 infection during pregnancy jointly predicted infant attention at 6 months.

In mothers reporting positive COVID-19 infection, higher prenatal psychosocial stress was associated with lower infant attention at 6 months.

Exploratory analyses indicated that infant attention in turn predicted socioemotional function and neurodevelopmental risk at 12 months, according to the study led by the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The findings highlight maternal stress as a modifiable target to potentially reduce negative outcomes from prenatal COVID-19 infection and the possible protective benefits to expectant mothers of getting vaccinated for COVID-19 during their pregnancy, said NIH.

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