The aim of the present study was to investigate peripartal performance on cognitive tests and its possible relationship with plasma oxytocin concentrations. Twenty women (cases) were tested on five experimental occasions, the first toward the end of pregnancy and the last 12 months postpartum. On each experimental occasion performance on cognitive tests of memory and attention was recorded and oxytocin concentrations were simultaneously assayed in plasma-samples. Twenty non-pregnant women (controls) were investigated at similar intervals. Cases were found to have improved their performance on some cognitive tests significantly more than controls when results at 6 and 12 months after delivery were compared with those from the end of pregnancy and up to three months after partus. This observation strongly suggest impairment in cognitive performance during the peripartal period. Cases had significantly higher oxytocin concentrations than controls in plasma samples up to three months post partum. No correlation was, however, found between cognitive test results and levels of oxytocin concentration. © 1990.
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