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Do Pregnancy-Induced Brain Changes Reverse? The Brain of a Mother Six Years after Parturition

Instituto de Investigación Sanitaria Gregorio Marañón, 28007 Madrid, Spain
Centro de Investigación Biomédica en Red de Salud Mental (CIBERSAM), 28007 Madrid, Spain
Institute of Mental Health Vidal i Barraquer, Ramon Llull University, 08022 Barcelona, Spain
Departament de Psiquiatria i Medicina Legal, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Cerdanyola del Vallés, Spain
CSMA Ciutat Vella, Parc Sanitari Sant Joan de Deu, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad, 20145 Milan, Italy
Departamento de Bioingeniería e Ingeniería Aeroespacial, Universidad Carlos III de Madrid, 280829 Madrid, Spain
Institut Hospital del Mar d’Investigacions Mèdiques, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Divisió de Salut Mental, Althaia, Xarxa Assistencial Universitària de Manresa, 08243 Manresa, Spain
Instituto de Neuropsiquiatría y Adicciones (INAD), Parc de Salut Mar, 08003 Barcelona, Spain
Instituto Valenciano de Infertilidad (IVI Barcelona), 08017 Barcelona, Spain
Centro Nacional de Investigaciones Cardiovasculares (CNIC), 28029 Madrid, Spain
Brain and Development Research Center, Leiden University, 2333 Leiden, The Netherlands
Leiden Institute for Brain and Cognition, 2300 Leiden, The Netherlands
Authors to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Shared co-first authorship.
Shared co-last authorship.
Academic Editors: María José Rodrigo and Livio Provenzi
Brain Sci. 2021, 11(2), 168;
Received: 16 December 2020 / Revised: 11 January 2021 / Accepted: 22 January 2021 / Published: 28 January 2021
Neuroimaging researchers commonly assume that the brain of a mother is comparable to that of a nulliparous woman. However, pregnancy leads to pronounced gray matter volume reductions in the mother’s brain, which have been associated with maternal attachment towards the baby. Beyond two years postpartum, no study has explored whether these brain changes are maintained or instead return to pre-pregnancy levels. The present study tested whether gray matter volume reductions detected in primiparous women are still present six years after parturition. Using data from a unique, prospective neuroimaging study, we compared the gray matter volume of 25 primiparous and 22 nulliparous women across three sessions: before conception (n = 25/22), during the first months of postpartum (n = 25/21), and at six years after parturition (n = 7/5). We found that most of the pregnancy-induced gray matter volume reductions persist six years after parturition (classifying women as having been pregnant or not with 91.67% of total accuracy). We also found that brain changes at six years postpartum are associated with measures of mother-to-infant attachment. These findings open the possibility that pregnancy-induced brain changes are permanent and encourage neuroimaging studies to routinely include pregnancy-related information as a relevant demographic variable. View Full-Text
Keywords: pregnancy; maternal brain; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroplasticity; postpartum pregnancy; maternal brain; magnetic resonance imaging; neuroplasticity; postpartum
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MDPI and ACS Style

Martínez-García, M.; Paternina-Die, M.; Barba-Müller, E.; Martín de Blas, D.; Beumala, L.; Cortizo, R.; Pozzobon, C.; Marcos-Vidal, L.; Fernández-Pena, A.; Picado, M.; Belmonte-Padilla, E.; Massó-Rodriguez, A.; Ballesteros, A.; Desco, M.; Vilarroya, Ó.; Hoekzema, E.; Carmona, S. Do Pregnancy-Induced Brain Changes Reverse? The Brain of a Mother Six Years after Parturition. Brain Sci. 2021, 11, 168.

AMA Style

Martínez-García M, Paternina-Die M, Barba-Müller E, Martín de Blas D, Beumala L, Cortizo R, Pozzobon C, Marcos-Vidal L, Fernández-Pena A, Picado M, Belmonte-Padilla E, Massó-Rodriguez A, Ballesteros A, Desco M, Vilarroya Ó, Hoekzema E, Carmona S. Do Pregnancy-Induced Brain Changes Reverse? The Brain of a Mother Six Years after Parturition. Brain Sciences. 2021; 11(2):168.

Chicago/Turabian Style

Martínez-García, Magdalena, María Paternina-Die, Erika Barba-Müller, Daniel Martín de Blas, Laura Beumala, Romina Cortizo, Cristina Pozzobon, Luis Marcos-Vidal, Alberto Fernández-Pena, Marisol Picado, Elena Belmonte-Padilla, Anna Massó-Rodriguez, Agustin Ballesteros, Manuel Desco, Óscar Vilarroya, Elseline Hoekzema, and Susanna Carmona. 2021. "Do Pregnancy-Induced Brain Changes Reverse? The Brain of a Mother Six Years after Parturition" Brain Sciences 11, no. 2: 168.

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