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Comment & Response
June 22, 2020

Pregnancy Stress, Anxiety, and Depression Sequela on Neonatal Brain Development

Author Affiliations
  • 1Paediatric Department, Nepean Hospital, Penrith, Australia
JAMA Pediatr. 2020;174(9):908. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2020.1073

To the Editor We read with interest the article by Wu et al,1 which demonstrated an association of maternal psychological distress with in utero brain development in fetuses with congenital heart disease (CHD). The study found that the maternal stress was associated with smaller left hippocampal, right hippocampal, and cerebellar volumes only among women carrying fetuses with CHD. However, this study did not show similar finding in women carrying healthy fetuses, despite the fact that 27% of women in the control group tested positive for stress, 26% for anxiety, and 9% for depression. Could authors please investigate whether the control group mothers, whose stress, depression, and anxiety scores were as high as in women whose fetuses had CHD, delivered babies with similar cerebral magnetic resonance imaging findings? If very high stress, depression, and anxiety scores are shown to affect neonatal brain development, extra steps should be taken in the daily clinical care of pregnant women.

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