The effect of stress and anxiety associated with maternal prenatal diagnosis on feto-maternal attachment

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Background: A couple's decision to undergo an invasive test based on a screening test result is a process associated with anxiety. The aim of this study was to determine whether anxiety and prenatal attachment were affected by undergoing an invasive test compared to women in early pregnancy and after a reassuring anomaly scan.Methods: 200 women were recruited at booking, 14 women and 20 partners after an invasive test and 81 women following an anomaly scan. A questionnaire was completed using the Beck Anxiety Inventory and Maternal or Paternal Antenatal Attachment Scales.Results: Women who have had an invasive test have higher levels of anxiety compared to women at booking (P < 0.01) and after an anomaly scan (P = 0.002). Anxiety declines from booking to the time of an anomaly scan (P = 0.025), whilst attachment increases (P < 0.001). There is a positive correlation between anxiety and attachment in women who have had an invasive test (r = 0.479). Partners of women undergoing an invasive test experience lower levels of anxiety (P < 0.05).Conclusions: Women undergoing prenatal diagnostic procedures experience more psychological distress, which may be currently underestimated. Establishment of interdisciplinary treatment settings where access to psychological support is facilitated may be beneficial. © 2011 Allison et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.




Allison, S. J., Stafford, J., & Anumba, D. O. C. (2011). The effect of stress and anxiety associated with maternal prenatal diagnosis on feto-maternal attachment. BMC Women’s Health, 11.

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