Support research
on childhood diseases

Impacts of COVID-19-related measures on perinatal health and services

Research Project Director : Geneviève Roch, RN, Ph.D. Professor, Université Laval Faculty of Nursing


- Université Laval in Quebec City: Marie-Pierre Gagnon, Gina Muckle, Maude Laberge, Annie Leblanc, Mathieu Ouimet, Thamara Pierce and George Tarabulsy

- McGill University: Suzanne King, Tina Montreuil and Sonia Semenic

- Université de Montréal: Roxane Borges da Silva and Andrée-Anne Parent

- Université du Québec à Trois Rivières: Nicolas Berthelot

- Université du Québec à Montréal (UQAM): Julie Poissant

Several organizational representatives and partners, committed to contributing to the acceleration of the project's implementation and knowledge mobilization.

What is the objective of the project?

The objective will be to assess the impacts of political and public health measures related to COVID-19 on support services, perinatal health and their consequences on the development of babies born in the context of a pandemic.

The pandemic caused by COVID-19 has exposed vulnerable populations to a global health crisis. In the absence of a vaccine, the political and public health measures implemented to limit this pandemic are unprecedented. This is generating a perinatal experience and a transformation of support services whose knowledge is essential to the development of rapid interventions to maintain family health in the perinatal period.

Researchers currently have data from a study of 1208 pregnant women and their partners, whose respondents were distributed before and after the announcement of emergency health measures. This distribution provides an invaluable opportunity to explain the impacts of VIDOC-19. They also have data on the use of different sources of perinatal information and on the support services offered by non-profit organizations (NPOs) during the perinatal period. The spontaneous deployment of digital and/or remote support services by these NPOs has the potential to act as a safety net for new families, but remains unknown and faces collaborative challenges.

The results of the study will inform clinical and management decisions and interventions in perinatal, early childhood and family care through rigorous and relevant results. They will facilitate the scaling up of services in light of the health difficulties measured, while opening the door to projects contributing to the well-being of families and the healthy development of children.

What is the originality of the project?

The originality of this project lies mainly in the fact that this team of researchers is the only one in Canada to have data from a cohort study with perinatal health indicators collected from pregnant women and fathers-to-be before and after the onset of the COVID-19 crisis. This study also has data on the difficulties resulting from COVID-19, group and online prenatal education services, other sources of information and perinatal services used by parents before and as the pandemic crisis evolved.

What will be the impact of these advances?

The impact of this research will translate into results that are relevant to decisions about perinatal services and public health measures that can intervene on perinatal health and support. All this in order to estimate the impacts of COVID-19 and to intervene quickly to prevent and/or mitigate health and development problems that may occur in the short, medium and long term in children born in the context of a pandemic.

What are the targeted transformations for children's health?

The results will help explain the impacts of COVID-19 on various support services and perinatal health, including that of children born in the context of COVID-19. Beyond the only children who may be infected with this virus, all children are currently exposed to various factors contributing to their mothers' prenatal stress, which is already known to cause various neurodevelopmental problems. By better understanding how expectant and new parents experience difficulties related to COVID-19 and what perinatal and support services can act to reduce their anxiety, it will be possible to quickly implement appropriate interventions to limit the consequences of COVID-19 on the healthy development of children.

What is the potential leverage effect?

Already submitted to the CIHR competition on July 7, two new projects from the one proposed. One is to start a secondary cohort to the current one to measure the effects of COVID-19 on maternal health and child development. The other is aimed at the design and evaluation of Pérn@COVID, an organizational practice aimed at integrating community and mental health services for early intervention to detect and prevent perinatal mental health and developmental problems in children born in the context of COVID 19.