Document Type


Publication Date



BACKGROUND: The purpose of this investigation was to determine if reproductive experience is associated with cumulative effects on human memory performance during pregnancy and if these effects persist into the postpartum period.

METHODS: Verbal recall memory performance was assessed in 254 women four times during pregnancy and at 3 months postpartum. The relation between parity and memory function was evaluated with hierarchical linear modeling and analysis of covariance (ANCOVA).

RESULTS: The data indicate that the previously documented adverse effects of pregnancy on memory performance are compounded with successive pregnancies. During gestation and postpartum, multiparity was associated with poorer memory function, and these effects did not appear to be due to differences in maternal demographics, depressive symptoms, or sleep quality.

CONCLUSIONS: Animal models demonstrate that the effects of reproduction on brain structure and function are both cumulative and enduring. However, little is known about the influence of reproductive experience on the human female brain. These findings provide evidence that in humans, reproduction is associated with striking and perhaps persisting changes in cognitive function.


This is a copy of an article published in the Journal of Women's Health © 2012 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., available online at DOI:10.1089/jwh.2011.3206


Mary Ann Liebert



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.