Obstetric patients’ perspectives on functional magnetic neuroimaging research in pregnant women

Rebecca L. Newmark, Michelle L. Zaydlin, Amy Yang, Kelcie Kuchenrither, Katherine L. Wisner, Suena H. Massey*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Magnetic resonance neuroimaging (MRI) studies of healthy pregnant women could identify key mechanisms of spontaneous health behavior changes observed in expectant mothers as novel intervention targets, but are currently unprecedented. As balancing potential benefits of research with unknown risks, including participant perceptions of risk, is foundational to ethical conduct, we surveyed a convenience obstetric sample to understand pregnant women’s perspectives on this issue. Respondents were 76 pregnant women (modal age of 30–39 years; 64% multiparous) presenting for obstetric care from April to June 2016 at privately and publicly funded clinics at an urban academic medical center in the Midwestern USA. Following a written description about functional magnetic resonance neuroimaging (fMRI) and its known and unknown risks, women were queried on their willingness to participate in a hypothetical study involving fMRI during pregnancy, and specific concerns about doing so, if hesitant or unwilling. Willingness to participate was “yes” (28.4%, n = 21), “maybe” (28.4%, n = 21), and “no” (43.2%, n = 32). Among those responding “maybe” or “no” (n = 53, 73.6%), 11 women (20.7%) articulated concern about the fetus. Other concerns expressed were time commitment (n = 11, 20.7%) and discomfort being in an MRI machine (n = 4; 7.5%). Pregnant women may be open to participating in research involving MRI provided concerns about fetal health, time, and personal comfort are addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)115-118
Number of pages4
JournalArchives of Women's Mental Health
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 1 2019


  • Ethics
  • Neuroimaging
  • Plasticity
  • Pregnancy
  • Survey study
  • fMRI

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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