Am J Perinatol 2017; 34(09): 927-934
DOI: 10.1055/s-0037-1601307
Original Article
Thieme Medical Publishers 333 Seventh Avenue, New York, NY 10001, USA.

Characterizing Literacy and Cognitive Function during Pregnancy and Postpartum

Lynn M. Yee
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Leslie A. Kamel
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Zara Quader
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Priya V. Rajan
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Shaneah M. Taylor
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Rachel O'Conor
2  Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
,
Michael S. Wolf
2  Department of Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
3  Department of Learning Sciences, Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois
,
Melissa A. Simon
1  Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
4  Department of Preventive Medicine, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
5  Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
› Author Affiliations
Further Information

Publication History

16 January 2017

09 January 2017

Publication Date:
22 March 2017 (eFirst)

Abstract

Objective The objective of this study was to characterize health literacy and cognitive function in a diverse cohort of pregnant women.

Methods Pregnant and postpartum women underwent in-depth assessments of health literacy/numeracy and the cognitive domains of verbal ability, working memory, long-term memory, processing speed, and inductive reasoning. Differences by demographic characteristics and gestational age were assessed using chi-square tests and multivariable logistic regression.

Results In this cohort of pregnant (N = 77) or postpartum (N = 24) women, 41.6% had limited health literacy/numeracy. Women were more likely to score in the lowest quartile for literacy and verbal ability if they were less educated, younger, nonwhite or had Medicaid. These factors were associated with low scores for long-term memory, processing speed, and inductive reasoning. Although there were no differences in literacy or cognitive function by parity or gestational age, postpartum women were more likely to score in the lowest quartile for processing speed (adjusted odds ratio [aOR]: 3.79, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.32–10.93) and inductive reasoning (aOR: 4.07, 95% CI: 1.21–13.70).

Conclusion Although postpartum status was associated with reduced inductive reasoning and processing speed, there were no differences in cognitive function across pregnancy.

Practice Implications Postpartum maternal learning may require enhanced support. In addition, cognitive skills and health literacy may be a mediator of perinatal outcomes inequities.

Note

This work was presented as a poster presentation at the 2015 Society for Reproductive Investigation 62nd Annual Meeting in San Francisco, CA, March 2015.