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Abstract #0614

Impacts of prenatal COVID-19 pandemic-related distress on brain functional connectivity in 3-month infants

Aliza Jaffer1, Kathryn Y Manning2, Gerald F Giesbrecht 3, Lianne Tomfohr-Madsen3, and Catherine Lebel2
1University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada, 2Department of Radiology, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada, 3Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB, Canada


Prenatal psychological distress has been substantially higher during the COVID-19 pandemic, but its impacts on infant brain development remain unclear. We investigated the relationship between prenatal pandemic-related distress and functional connectivity within the default mode (DMN), auditory, and left frontoparietal brain networks in 3-month old infants. Resting-state functional MRI scans were analysed using FSL. Higher prenatal anxiety was associated with increased infant functional connectivity within the DMN. These connectivity changes may predispose these infants to later mental health challenges, and highlight the need to screen for prenatal anxiety and provide support for pregnant individuals and infants born during the pandemic.

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