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10-09-2012 | Cardiology | Article

Problem shared is a problem halved for mothers of cardiac defect babies


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medwireNews: Posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety are common in pregnant women after receiving a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease, say researchers.

However, Jack Rychik (Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, USA) and team's study also showed that partner satisfaction can help women deal with the news of a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease, they write in the Journal of Pediatrics.

The analysis included 59 pregnant women aged 30 years with a mean gestation of 26.8 weeks. All women were carrying fetuses with serious congenital heart disease requiring neonatal evaluation and surgical or catheter-based intervention within the first 6 months of life.

The researchers found that these women had a significantly higher mean depression score (according to the Beck Depression Inventory Index II) than normal pregnant women, at 11.2 versus 7.0.

Women carrying fetuses with congenital heart disease also had higher mean state anxiety and trait anxiety (both according to the State-Trait Anxiety Index) scores than healthy pregnant women, at 44.14 versus 29.80 and 42.34 versus 30.92, respectively.

The amount of partner satisfaction felt by women who received a prenatal congenital heart disease diagnosis was lower than that of normal pregnant women, at 116.78 versus 150.73 on the Dyadic Adjustment Scale.

Post-hoc linear regression analysis using depression, state anxiety, and traumatic stress as dependent variables revealed that lower partner satisfaction was significantly associated with higher levels of depression and anxiety, but not traumatic stress.

MANOVA analysis demonstrated that there was a significant relationship between depression, state anxiety, and traumatic stress; and the coping variables of acceptance, denial, positive reinterpretation (seeing the situation as more positive and an opportunity for personal development), use of emotional social support, and use of instrumental social support.

Of note, partner satisfaction was significantly and positively associated with use of emotional social support, at a correlation coefficient of 0.48.

After controlling for partner satisfaction and income, only the coping style of denial was significantly associated with depression. "This suggests that although individual coping skills are important, partner satisfaction may be a better predictor and/or buffer for a more resilient response to the stressor of prenatal congenital heart disease diagnosis," say the authors.

They conclude: "Further research on specific psychosocial interventions that can provide support and skills to the mother and couple as an adjunct to medical treatment is warranted."

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Piriya Mahendra, medwireNews Reporter

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