Psychological impact on women after second and third trimester termination of pregnancy due to fetal anomalies versus women after preterm birth--a 14-month follow up study

Arch Womens Ment Health. 2009 Aug;12(4):193-201. doi: 10.1007/s00737-009-0063-8. Epub 2009 Mar 6.


The objective of this study was to compare psychiatric morbidity and the course of posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety in two groups with severe complications during pregnancy, women after termination of late pregnancy (TOP) due to fetal anomalies and women after preterm birth (PRE). As control group women after the delivery of a healthy child were assessed. A consecutive sample of women who experienced a) termination of late pregnancy in the 2nd or 3rd-trimester (N = 62), or b) preterm birth (N = 43), or c) birth of a healthy child (N = 65) was investigated 14 days (T1), 6 months (T2), and 14 months (T3) after the event. At T1, 22.4% of the women after TOP were diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder compared to 18.5% women after PRE, and 6.2% in the control group. The corresponding values at T3 were 16.7%, 7.1%, and 0%. Shortly after the event, a broad spectrum of diagnoses was found; however, 14 months later only affective and anxiety disorders were diagnosed. Posttraumatic stress and clinician-rated depressive symptoms were highest in women after TOP. The short-term emotional reactions to TOP in late pregnancy due to fetal anomaly appear to be more intense than those to preterm birth. Both events can lead to severe psychiatric morbidity with a lasting psychological impact.

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Chromosome Aberrations
  • Congenital Abnormalities / psychology*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Germany / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Interview, Psychological
  • Mental Disorders / diagnosis
  • Mental Disorders / epidemiology
  • Mental Disorders / psychology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Second
  • Pregnancy Trimester, Third
  • Premature Birth / psychology*
  • Young Adult