A prospective study on parental coping 4 months after termination of pregnancy for fetal anomalies


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Abstract

ObjectiveTo identify short-term factors influencing psychological outcome of termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly, in order to define those patients most vulnerable to psychopathology.Study DesignA prospective cohort of 217 women and 169 men completed standardized questionnaires 4 months after termination. Psychological adjustment was measured by the Inventory of Complicated Grief (ICG), the Impact of Event Scale (IES), the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS), and the Symptom Checklist-90 (SCL-90).ResultsWomen and men showed high levels of posttraumatic stress (PTS) symptoms (44 and 22%, respectively) and symptoms of depression (28 and 16%, respectively). Determinants of adverse psychological outcome were the following: high level of doubt in the decision period, inadequate partner support, low selfefficacy, lower parental age, being religious, and advanced gestational age. Whether the condition was Down syndrome or another disability was irrelevant to the outcome. Termination did not have an important effect on future reproductive intentions. Only 2% of women and less than 1% of men regretted the decision to terminate.ConclusionTermination of pregnancy (TOP) for fetal anomaly affects parents deeply. Four months after termination a considerable part still suffers from posttraumatic stress symptoms and depressive feelings. Patients who are at high risk could benefit from intensified support.

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