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BACKGROUND: This systematic review aims to explore the prevalence of the impact of the COVID-19, MERS, and SARS pandemics on the mental health of pregnant women. METHODS: All COVID-19, SARS and MERS studies that evaluated the mental health of pregnant women with/without gynaecological conditions that were reported in English between December 2000 - July 2021 were included. The search criteria were developed based upon the research question using PubMed, Science Direct, Ovid PsycINFO and EMBASE databases. A wide search criterion was used to ensure the inclusion of all pregnant women with existing gynaecological conditions. The Newcastle-Ottawa-Scale was used to assess the risk of bias for all included studies. Random effects model with restricted maximum-likelihood estimation method was applied for the meta-analysis and I-square statistic was used to evaluate heterogeneity across studies. The pooled prevalence rates of symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, stress, and sleep disorders with 95% confidence interval (CI) were computed. RESULTS: This systematic review identified 217 studies which included 638,889 pregnant women or women who had just given birth. There were no studies reporting the mental health impact due to MERS and SARS. Results showed that women who were pregnant or had just given birth displayed various symptoms of poor mental health including those relating to depression (24.9%), anxiety (32.8%), stress (29.44%), Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) (27.93%), and sleep disorders (24.38%) during the COVID-19 pandemic. DISCUSSION: It is important to note that studies included in this review used a range of outcome measures which does not allow for direct comparisons between findings. Most studies reported self-reported measure of symptoms without clinical diagnoses so conclusions can be made for symptom prevalence rather than of mental illness. The importance of managing mental health during pregnancy and after-delivery improves the quality of life and wellbeing of mothers hence developing an evidence-based approached as part of pandemic preparedness would improve mental health during challenging times. OTHER: The work presented in this manuscript was not funded by any specific grants. A study protocol was developed and published in PROSPERO (CRD42021235356) to explore several key objectives.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Pregnancy Childbirth

Publication Date





Antenatal care, Anxiety, Covid-19, Depression, Mental ill-health, Pregnancy, Stress, Wellbeing, Female, Pregnancy, Humans, Mental Health, Pandemics, COVID-19, Prevalence, Quality of Life, Parturition, Anxiety, Sleep Wake Disorders, Depression