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The COVID-19 pandemic is a global traumatic experience for citizens, especially during sensitive time windows of heightened plasticity such as pregnancy and neonatal life. Pandemic-related stress experienced by mothers during pregnancy may act as an early risk factor for infants’ regulatory capacity development by altering maternal psychosocial well-being (e.g., increased anxiety, reduced social support) and caregiving environment (e.g., greater parenting stress, impaired mother–infant bonding). The aim of the present longitudinal study was to assess the consequences of pandemic-related prenatal stress on infants’ regulatory capacity. A sample of 163 mother–infant dyads was enrolled at eight maternity units in northern Italy. They provided complete data about prenatal stress, perceived social support, postnatal anxiety symptoms, parenting stress, mother–infant bonding, and infants’ regulatory capacity at 3 months of age. Women who experienced emotional stress and received partial social support during pregnancy reported higher anxious symptoms. Moreover, maternal postnatal anxiety was indirectly linked to the infants’ regulatory capacity at 3 months, mediated by parenting stress and mother–infant bonding. Dedicated preventive interventions should be delivered to mothers and should be focused on protecting the mother–infant dyad from the detrimental effects of pandemic-related stress during the COVID-19 healthcare emergency.
Monochorionic twins, resulting from a single fertilized egg giving rise to two separate embryos, are monozygotic and considered genetically identical. However, discordant phenotypes have been reported in monozygotic twins. We analyzed a retrospective cohort of 155 monochorionic pregnancies (312 twins) with major discordant structural anomalies coded by the ICD-10 system in order to describe the spectrum of anomalies, the management of the pregnancies, and the perinatal outcome. Treatment options included conservative management, selective feticide with bipolar cord coagulation, or complete termination. All survivors underwent at least 24 months of postnatal follow-up. Discordancy was complicated by twin-to-twin transfusion syndrome in eight pregnancies (5%) and by selective intrauterine growth restriction in 41 (26%). Major structural anomalies affected one system in 139 cases (90%) and multiple systems in 16 (10%). Median gestational age at diagnosis was 19.1 weeks (IQR 16.4–21.3). The most frequent single-system anomalies involved the nervous and circulatory systems. In total, 72 anomalous twins (46%) and 116 normal co-twins (74%) were delivered at a median gestational age of 34.6 weeks (IQR 31.0–36.3). Neonatal/infant death of the anomalous twin occurred in 22 cases (14%), with an overall survival rate of 32% (50/155). Surviving anomalous twins underwent major surgery in 22/50 cases (44%), four of whom (8%) now suffer from severe neurologic morbidity. This study shows that a wide spectrum of major discordant structural anomalies can be found in monochorionic pregnancies. The outcome for the anomalous twin is poor, while the survival rate for the normal co-twin was 71%, with a favorable overall prognosis.
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