Psychological outcomes, knowledge and preferences of pregnant women on first-trimester screening for fetal structural abnormalities: A prospective cohort study

Francesca Bardi*, Merel Bakker, Monique J A Kenkhuis, Adelita V Ranchor, Marian K Bakker, Ayten Elvan, Erwin Birnie, Caterina M Bilardo

*Corresponding author for this work

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Abstract

INTRODUCTION: The primary aim of this study is to investigate the impact of a 13-week anomaly scan on the experienced levels of maternal anxiety and well-being. Secondly, to explore women's knowledge on the possibilities and limitations of the scan and the preferred timing of screening for structural abnormalities.

MATERIAL AND METHODS: In a prospective-cohort study conducted between 2013-2015, pregnant women in the North-Netherlands underwent a 13-week anomaly scan. Four online-questionnaires (Q1, Q2, Q3 and Q4) were completed before and after the 13- and the 20-week anomaly scans. In total, 1512 women consented to participate in the study and 1118 (74%) completed the questionnaires at Q1, 941 (64%) at Q2, 807 (55%) at Q3 and 535 (37%) at Q4. Psychological outcomes were measured by the state-trait inventory-scale (STAI), the patient's positive-negative affect (PANAS) and ad-hoc designed questionnaires.

RESULTS: Nine-nine percent of women wished to be informed as early as possible in pregnancy about the absence/presence of structural abnormalities. In 87% of women levels of knowledge on the goals and limitations of the 13-week anomaly scan were moderate-to-high. In women with a normal 13-week scan result, anxiety levels decreased (P < .001) and well-being increased over time (P < .001). In women with false-positive results (n = 26), anxiety levels initially increased (STAI-Q1: 39.8 vs. STAI-Q2: 48.6, P = 0.025), but later decreased around the 20-week anomaly scan (STAI-Q3: 36.4 vs. STAI-Q4: 34.2, P = 0.36).

CONCLUSIONS: The 13-week scan did not negatively impact the psychological well-being of pregnant women. The small number of women with screen-positive results temporarily experienced higher anxiety after the scan but, in false-positive cases, anxiety levels normalized again when the abnormality was not confirmed at follow-up scans. Finally, most pregnant women have moderate-to-high levels of knowledge and strongly prefer early screening for fetal structural abnormalities.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0245938
Number of pages13
JournalPLoS ONE
Volume16
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 27-Jan-2021

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