Research, Urban Planning, Environment and Health

MOOD COVID: Evaluating the Impact of the Pandemic on the Mental Health of Pregnant Women

ISGlobal researcher Maria Foraster awarded one of ten AXA Research Fund grants

Photo: Arteida MjESHTRI

The uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic and the impact of the measures imposed to combat the disease, such as lockdowns and social distancing, may have a significant effect on the mental health of the population, especially in the case of women, who have been disproportionately affected by the burden imposed by the crisis. The objective of the MOOD COVID project is to study the impact of the pandemic on the mental health of pregnant women, young mothers and their offspring .

MOOD COVID, a study led by the researcher Maria Foraster at ISGlobal, a centre supported by the ”la Caixa” Foundation, is one of ten projects to receive grants from the AXA Research Fund out of a field of 500 candidates. Only 2% of those applying for this highly competitive funding are successful. The award provided a €240,000 grant and the study got underway in April within the framework of the BiSC project

“We have no recent precedent for the pandemic or its consequences,” explains Maria Foraster. “So we need to gain a better understanding of the effects of this crisis on the mental health and wellbeing of pregnant women and mothers in order to define with greater precision the measures that should be taken during future waves and epidemics”.

The women participating in MOOD COVID are all residents of the Barcelona metropolitan area and volunteers in the BiSC Project. During the lockdown, between April and June 2020, they completed several questionnaires relating to their mental health. The women also had an open channel of communication where they could consult a professional. The team of scientists are now evaluating the results of the first phase and preparing a new questionnaire. Their intention is to follow up on the same group of mothers and children for at least two years.

“We want to answer several questions, including whether the months of home confinement were associated with mental health problems, such as depression or post-traumatic stress, and the possibility that the lockdown may have affected the children’s neurodevelopment”, explains Maria Foraster.