Adjustment to termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly: a longitudinal study in women at 4, 8, and 16 months

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2009 Aug;201(2):160.e1-7. doi: 10.1016/j.ajog.2009.04.007. Epub 2009 Jun 26.


Objective: We studied psychological outcomes and predictors for adverse outcome in 147 women 4, 8, and 16 months after termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly.

Study design: We conducted a longitudinal study with validated self-completed questionnaires.

Results: Four months after termination 46% of women showed pathological levels of posttraumatic stress symptoms, decreasing to 20.5% after 16 months. As to depression, these figures were 28% and 13%, respectively. Late onset of problematic adaptation did not occur frequently. Outcome at 4 months was the most important predictor of persistent impaired psychological outcome. Other predictors were low self-efficacy, high level of doubt during decision making, lack of partner support, being religious, and advanced gestational age. Strong feelings of regret for the decision were mentioned by 2.7% of women.

Conclusion: Termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly has significant psychological consequences for 20% of women up to > 1 year. Only few women mention feelings of regret.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / psychology*
  • Abortion, Induced / psychology*
  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Adult
  • Decision Making
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / psychology*
  • Social Support
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Young Adult