, Volume 28, Issue 1, pp 65-76

Distress Associated with Prenatal Screening for Fetal Abnormality

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Abstract

A theoretically-based, multivariate approach was used to identify factors associated with emotional distress for pregnant women undergoing maternal serum alpha fetoprotein (MSAFP or AFP) testing, used to detect abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Participants were those who received normal results (N = 87). Study results supported the hypothesis that different factors would predict distress before and after testing. Satisfaction with information about testing predicted lower emotional distress early in the testing process; concerns about the child having other medical conditions and low-dispositional optimism predicted distress later. Study findings indicate that even in women who receive normal test results, AFP testing is associated with a modest degree of emotional disturbance which declines, but does not completely abate, after testing.