Maternal anxiety associated with fetal echocardiography


Background: Women awaiting fetal echocardiography (fECHO) report high anxiety. It is unclear if anxiety decreases after performance of fECHO. Methods: At fECHO, subjects’ current (state) vs baseline (trait) anxiety was assessed using the Spielberger State-Trait Anxiety Inventory. Anxiety scores of the pre- and post-fECHO groups were compared. Results: From January 2007 to January 2009, we recruited 84 subjects: 40 pre-fECHO and 44 post-fECHO. Of the post-fECHO group, 30 had normal fetal cardiac structure and function confirmed, 12 were told of an abnormality, and 2 were told to follow up equivocal results. Anxiety scores were compared between the 40 pre-fECHO subjects and the 30 post-fECHO subjects with normal results. The mean state anxiety score of the pre-fECHO group was higher than that of the post-fECHO group (42.1 ± 15.1 vs 30.8 ± 8.5, p < 0.001); there was no difference in trait scores. Neither state nor trait anxiety was associated with maternal age, parity, history of miscarriage or known fetal anomaly. Compared to those with a normal fECHO (N = 30), subjects with an abnormal fECHO result (N = 12) had higher state anxiety (46.8 ± 15.5 vs 30.8 ± 8.5, p = 0.005). There was no difference in anxiety scores between subjects awaiting fECHO and post-fECHO subjects who had an abnormal result. Conclusion: Immediately following normal fECHO, women report low anxiety compared with women awaiting fECHO. Women awaiting fECHO report anxiety levels that are as high as women who are told there is fetal cardiac anomaly.

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Channing, A. , Rosenberg, K. , Monk, C. , Kleinman, C. , Glickstein, J. , Levasseur, S. , Simpson, L. and Williams, I. (2012) Maternal anxiety associated with fetal echocardiography. Open Journal of Pediatrics, 2, 143-149. doi: 10.4236/ojped.2012.22024.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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