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A Journal on Psychiatry, Psychology and Psychopharmacology

Official Journal of the Italian Society of Social Psychiatry
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Minerva Psichiatrica 2007 December;48(4):373-8

language: English

Psychological issues in the diagnosis of fetal cardiac disease

Montis S., Secchi G., Mura S., Atzeni C., Portas E., Congiu M., Pisanu S., Tumbarello R.

Division of Pediatric Cardiology G. Brotzu Hospital Cagliari, Italy


Aim. The aim of our study is to analyse the emotional conditions of future mothers and fathers once child has been diagnosed with congenital heart disease.
Methods. Forty-eight cases of fetal congenital heart disease were diagnosed from 2004 to 2006. The Impact Event Scale (IES-R), and the Semantic Differential (SD) tests were used on the 35 couples who decided to continue the pregnancy. The Student’s t-test was used to perform the statistical analysis.
Results. The analysis of IES-R showed that the mothers tend to live a psychological distress characterized by the recurring thought of the diagnosis and from a condition of permanent tension (P<0.05) while the fathers tend to avoid most of the thoughts and the situations which might remind them of recall the diagnosis (P<0.05). The SD analysis showed that the mothers perceive their role as a parent with insecurity and anxiety (P<0.05), and they think their children will be shyer, more fearful, sadder and less independent compared with their partners (P<0.05).
Conclusion. The psychological impact of the fetal diagnosis of congenital heart disease hits future mothers harder than future fathers. Both parents need medical and psychological support: mothers need to be encouraged from the state of impasse that blocks them from the diagnosis, fathers need to be helped to face the diagnosis without using a mechanism of escape.

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