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22-02-2021 | Article

COVID-19 threatens maternal mental health and infant development: possible paths from stress and isolation to adverse outcomes and a call for research and practice

Tijdschrift:
Child Psychiatry & Human Development
Auteurs:
Amanda Venta, Johanna Bick, Jeremy Bechelli
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Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic exposed mothers to stress and social isolation during the pre- and post-natal periods. The deleterious effects of stress on both pregnant women and their infants are well documented, with research suggesting that effects are exacerbated by reduced social support. In this brief report, we summarize evidence linking stress and social isolation to negative outcomes for mothers and infants and present a conceptual model featuring inflammation as a driving mechanism. There is strong evidence that the coronavirus pandemic will affect mothers and infants through immune pathways that, in previous research, have been shown to link stress and social isolation during the pre- and post-natal periods with deficits in maternal mental health and infant well-being and development across developmental stages. We close with recommendations for novel research, policy changes, and integrated clinical care that can address these biological threats to infants and mothers while leveraging the anti-inflammatory effects of social support.

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