The impact of previous stillbirth, miscarriage, or preterm delivery on anxiety in pregnant women in various subgroups at high risk for fetal abnormality in comparison with a nonrisk control group of women with healthy uncomplicated pregnancies was studied longitudinally. The level of anxiety in women (n = 674) during early pregnancy was assessed by questionnaire. Data were collected at three points in time: immediately before the ultrasound scanning, at 5–6 weeks, and at 10–12 weeks after the prenatal examination for fetal malformation. In general, all women with high-risk pregnancies (n = 506) showed high levels of anxiety immediately before ultrasound scanning. There was a significant decrease in anxiety over the following 10–12 weeks. By contrast, level of anxiety was not raised in the no-risk control group (n = 168). However, pregnant women who had experienced miscarriage or stillbirth in previous pregnancies showed increasing or persistently high levels of anxiety over time. We believe it is very important to screen women whose levels of anxiety are consistently high or escalating and to offer psychotherapeutic counseling as a means of preventing pregnancy complications.
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Document Type: Research Article
Department of Pediatric Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Dr. von Hauner Children's Hospital Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich Germany
Department of Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy University of Ulm Ulm Germany
Women's Hospital, Subdepartment of Prenatal Diagnosis and Sonography in Gynecology University of Ulm Ulm Germany
March 1, 2005
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