Studying The "Exquisitely Sensitive” Perinatal Period During Pandemic

Jun 24, 2020

Just how is the coronavirus pandemic impacting pregnant women and mothers of newborns? A University of Oregon psychology professor is part of an international effort to find out.

Credit COPE Study

Jen Ablow is an investigator on the COVID19 and Perinatal Experiences or COPE Study. She runs a research site at U of O and pulls data from anonymous surveys filled out by participants. https://blogs.uoregon.edu/copestudy/

“We’re collaborating with a number of community partners, in particular WellMama Oregon, so that we can reach an economically diverse group of English and Spanish speaking women.”

Credit WellMama Oregon

Initial results already reveal pregnant women are significantly stressed. Social isolation, changes in hospital procedures, and financial instability are just some factors cited often or very often.

Ablow says this generation of infants, born during the COVID-19 pandemic, will be studied for years to come.

“Scientifically, the opportunities are incredible. In terms of human stress, the toll is likely to be unprecedented.”  

Dr. Jennifer Ablow is Associate Professor of Psychology at U of O. Her interests: Clinical, Developmental, Infant-Parent Attachment, Maternal Brain, Influence of Familial Risk and Protective Factors to Development of Stress, Physiological, and Emotion Regulation.
Credit University of Oregon

Dr. Ablow expects findings of the COPE study will ultimately affect worldwide standards of care for expectant women and mothers of infants.

“This will be especially important for already marginalized communities who too often fall through cracks in the health care system,” she said.

More immediately, Ablow says researchers can use survey responses to rapidly link women to online support and community resources.

“This is a really unique feature of this work because we’re not  waiting until results are published,” said Ablow. “Instead we can act immediately when women indicate a desire for support.”

Credit COPE Study

Ablow has also heard women’s concerns over any possible affects the virus might have on pregnancy.

She says, the jury is still out on whether the novel coronavirus will cross the placental barrier and alter fetal development.

Credit COPE and University of Oregon

“However, the work of my collaborator, Elinor Sullivan, has made clear that high rates of stress during pregnancy do alter levels of fetal inflammation and as a result, negatively impact fetal neural development,” Ablow said.

In other words, the concerns of pregnant participants are not entirely misplaced. 

Given there are strong projections that pandemic like this one will arise again, Ablow hopes the results from this rare opportunity—targeted at this “exquisitely sensitive period,” the perinatal period-- will provide scientific insight to improve the lives of millions of women and their infants.  

If you are expecting or have a newborn- you are invited to participate in the COPE Study. 

INVITATION TO PARTICIPATE IN COPE STUDY

https://is.gd/copestudy_or_eng

UO researchers invite you to share your experience during Covid-19 by completing an anonymous survey. We hope results will improve support for parents in our community.

To learn more: https://is.gd/copestudy_or_engPara aprender más: https://is.gd/copestudy_or_spWe invite you to like our Facebook page: @COPEUoregon 

TO TAKE THE COPE Study survey online: 

https://redcap.uoregon.edu/surveys/index.php?s=934LM3P4JR

UO researchers invite you to share your experience during Covid-19 by completing an anonymous survey. We hope results will improve support for parents in our community.To learn more: https://is.gd/copestudy_or_engPara aprender más: https://is.gd/copestudy_or_spWe invite you to like our Facebook page: @COPEUoregon