Research Article

Sequelae and support after termination of pregnancy for fetal malformation.

BMJ 1985; 290 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.290.6472.907 (Published 23 March 1985) Cite this as: BMJ 1985;290:907
  1. J Lloyd,
  2. K M Laurence

    Abstract

    A retrospective study examined the reactions to the termination of pregnancy for fetal malformation and the follow up services that were available. Women resident in Mid Glamorgan who had had a termination between 1977 and 1981 because of positive findings after midtrimester prenatal diagnostic tests for neural tube defect or chromosome abnormalities were interviewed at home using a semistructured interview schedule. Three retrospective internal comparison groups were formed from those women who had also had a spontaneous abortion, previous stillbirth, or neonatal death or previous termination for medicosocial reasons early in pregnancy. Of the 48 women interviewed, 37 (77%) experienced an acute grief reaction after the index pregnancy was ended. This reaction was akin to that documented after stillbirth or neonatal death. Twenty two women (46%) remained symptomatic six months after the pregnancy had been ended, some requiring psychiatric support, compared with no such reaction after spontaneous abortion or termination for medicosocial reasons. All the women who had previously had a stillbirth or neonatal death were visited at home either by the general practitioner or by the midwife after that event but such follow up was limited to only eight of the study group after termination for fetal malformation. The findings suggest that support is inadequate for these patients and that improved follow up and counselling services may lessen the adverse sequelae of termination for fetal malformation.