THE ANGEL–(BUSINESS WIRE)–A global study released today by Pregistry, a leader in developing and conducting observational studies during pregnancy, highlights the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on healthy behaviors during pregnancy and its association with mental disorders. The study, conducted in 12 countries by Dr. Diego Wyszynski, CEO of Pregistry, and a team of collaborators showed increased psychological distress in one in three pregnant women and moderate effects on healthy behavior.
Research consistently shows that COVID-19 continues to disrupt physical activity, sleep and eating behaviors in the general population, largely attributed to quarantine and physical distancing measures. Such reductions in healthy behaviors have been linked to worsening mental health and well-being. The Pregistry study, titled “COVID-19 Perceived Effects on Sleep, Fitness and Diet and Associations with Mental Health During Pregnancy: A Cross-Country Study,” sheds light on the impact of the pandemic on the pregnant population, whose mental health is particularly critical given the potential short- and long-term effects on mother and child.
“With the documented mental health impacts in the general population due to the COVID-19 pandemic, including depression, anxiety and PTSD, it is critical to understand how we are supporting the most vulnerable populations, such as pregnant women, during this challenging time can take time,” said Dr. Wyszynski. “Our latest work has demonstrated an association between mental distress and the deterioration of healthy behaviors, suggesting that attention to sleep, nutrition and fitness-related disorders is important for promoting mental health during pregnancy amid a major stressor.”
In a recent survey of 3,692 pregnant women, one in three reported increased psychological distress, and approximately 30-45% of participants reported moderate to severe effects on healthy behaviors related to sleep, fitness, and diet. Interestingly, the effects on each area of healthy behavior (sleep, diet, fitness) were independently associated with increased psychological distress. Other results showed that a sense of community can cushion the impact of insufficient sleep and other impaired healthy behaviors on psychological distress, while the opposite, loneliness, can exacerbate risks. In addition, research shows that addressing sleep, diet and fitness changes together can help prevent psychological distress in pregnancy during times of major stress and underscores the importance of improved access to support for this group during the pandemic.
Taking into account a range of socio-demographic factors, insufficient sleep was found to be most strongly associated with psychological distress, with pregnant women reporting the strongest negative effects. The perceived effects of COVID-19 on diet showed the second strongest association pattern with mental distress. Finally, a reported effect on fitness was also associated with increased psychological distress, consistent with a large body of evidence linking physical activity and mental health in the general population and during pregnancy. The study found that positive feelings of gratitude and community were associated with less reported inadequate healthy behaviors. Additionally, loneliness emerged as a potential risk factor for increased reports of adverse effects.
Study contributors include Karmel W. Choi, Hannah H. Kim, Archana Basu, Alex SF Kwong, Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, Diego F. Wyszynski, and Karestan C. Koenen.
About the history
Pregistry is a global leader in developing and conducting observational studies to evaluate the safety of drugs and vaccines when used during pregnancy. With over 70 pregnancy specialists covering a range of clinical, pre-clinical, safety, regulatory, marketing and IT needs, the focus is on ensuring both mother and baby are healthy and safe and that prescribing physicians are aware of have the information needed to explain the potential benefits and risks of medication during pregnancy. Pregistry also offers pregnant people a safe place to connect with a global community of experts and like-minded people for free. To learn more, please visit: https://www.pregistry.com. For more Pregistry news, visit Pregistry.com/News.