Comparison of long-term psychological responses of women after pregnancy termination due to fetal anomalies and after perinatal loss

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Abstract

The objective of the study was to compare psychological responses of women following a pregnancy termination due to ultrasound-detected fetal anomalies (ultrasound group) with the psychological responses of women following a late spontaneous abortion or a perinatal death (perinatal loss group). The assessments, which were performed on four occasions in the year after the life event, included Montgomery and Asberg Depression Rating Scale, Goldberg General Health Questionnaire, Impact of Event Scale, State-Trait Anxiety Inventory and Schedule for Recent Life Events. In the acute phase, a few days after the life event, the women in the ultrasound group reported statistically significantly less depressive symptoms and less intrusion and avoidance symptoms than the perinatal loss group. No differences in psychological responses in the two groups were found at the examinations at approximately 7 weeks, 5 months or 1 year. A statistically significantly higher proportion of women in the ultrasound group reported that they had tried to become pregnant in the following year. A few subjects in each group reported persisting high psychological distress throughout the year, but only one woman fulfilled the criteria of a post-traumatic stress disorder. It is concluded that the long-term psychological stress response in women to pregnancy termination following ultrasonographic detection of fetal anomalies does not differ from the stress responses seen in women experiencing a perinatal loss. Copyright © 1997 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology

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