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Prenatal diagnosis of fetal abnormality: psychological effects on women in low-risk pregnancies.

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  • 1Centre for Family Research, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, CB2 3RF, UK.


When given an adverse prenatal diagnosis, parents are deeply shocked and experience acute grief. This review considers the psychological outcomes for parents whether they opt to terminate the pregnancy or continue, either through choice or because termination is not an option. It covers the full spectrum of malformation from treatable, through those carrying a risk of significant handicap, to lethal. It draws on two types of studies: those that are retrospective and qualitative, describing feelings and aspects of care, and those that are prospective and assess psychological state with standardized measures of grief, anxiety and depression. The relationship between psychological outcome and possible associated variables, such as individual characteristics, nature of the abnormality and obstetric factors is described and evaluated. In addition, the authors draw on both scientific and support group literature to summarize good practice for the care of parents receiving an unexpected diagnosis of fetal abnormality.

Copyright 2000 Harcourt Publishers Ltd.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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