The Impact of Maternal Prenatal Stress Related to the COVID-19 Pandemic during the First 1000 Days: A Historical Perspective

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The COVID-19 pandemic has a major impact on society, particularly affecting its vulnerable members, including pregnant women and their unborn children. Pregnant mothers reported fear of infection, fear of vertical transmission, fear of poor birth and child outcomes, social isolation, uncertainty about their partner’s presence during medical appointments and delivery, increased domestic abuse, and other collateral damage, including vaccine hesitancy. Accordingly, pregnant women’s known vulnerability for mental health problems has become a concern during the COVID-19 pandemic, also because of the known effects of prenatal stress for the unborn child. The current narrative review provides a historical overview of transgenerational effects of exposure to disasters during pregnancy, and the role of maternal prenatal stress. We place these effects into the perspective of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hereby, we aim to draw attention to the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women of reproductive age (15–49 year) and its potential associated short-term and long-term consequences for the health of children who are conceived, carried, and born during this pandemic. Timely detection and intervention during the first 1000 days is essential to reduce the burden of transgenerational effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4710
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 13 Apr 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: Funding sources for individual authors: Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research VENI grant (016.195.197-to Beijers).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.


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