Maternal Anxiety Related to Prenatal Diagnoses of Fetal Anomalies That Require Surgery

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Abstract

Objectives:

To investigate maternal anxiety in women with pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies that require surgery.

Design:

Prospective comparison pilot study.

Setting:

A fetal care center in a Northeastern U.S. academic medical center.

Participants:

Women in their second or early third trimesters of pregnancy; 19 with pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies and 25 without.

Methods:

After ultrasonography, all participants completed the Spielberger State–Trait Anxiety Inventory and a sociodemographic questionnaire. Participants with pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies also answered questions about the causes of their anxiety, their awareness of the nurse care coordinator service, and desired methods of emotional support. Obstetric and mental health history data were abstracted from the medical records of both groups.

Results:

Participants with pregnancies complicated by fetal anomalies had greater mean state anxiety scores than those without (43.58 vs. 29.08, p = .002). Maternal age was positively correlated with the state anxiety in women with fetuses with anomalies (r = 0.59, p = .008). Participants with histories of mental health issues had greater mean trait anxiety scores than those without (39.2 vs. 32.2, p = .048). Most participants (68%) reported that knowledge of the fetal care center's nurse care coordinator decreased their anxiety. Participants wanted the opportunity to speak with families who had similar experiences as a source of emotional support.

Conclusion:

Older maternal age may be a risk factor for anxiety in this population. Knowledge of the fetal care center nurse care coordinator service may have a positive effect and should be studied further.

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