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Published online: 2024-05-17

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Mental health and maternal risk appraisal among parents with fetal life-limiting condition diagnosis

Aleksandra Korzeniewska-Eksterowicz1, Joanna Miniszewska2


Introduction: Diagnosis of fetal life limiting condition (FLLC) means a painful loss. Prenatal medical care is carried out in situations of emotional overload for parents, and the method of its implementation carries a serious risk of additional traumatization. Our aim was evaluation of the parents’ mental condition after the diagnosis and its correlation with subjective maternal risk appraisal.

Methods: Retrospective analysis of medical records including General Health Questionnaire and maternal risk appraisal.

Results: Fifty-one couples qualified for the perinatal palliative care participated in the study. The final analysis included 32 couples. Parents obtained very high results in general health evaluation and high in all dimensions (apart from depression) and mental health of the mothers in whom genetic background of FLLC was confirmed as significantly worse. Parents evaluated current health state of mothers relatively high, but projected deterioration of it after delivery. Fetal well-being was assessed as low; parents prognosed worsening of the child’s condition after delivery. Subjective analysis of mothers’ and child’s health did not correlate with their mental health. In case of the fathers, however, the more they were convinced about bad health condition of the child (present and after delivery), the higher their results in the area of somatization was.

Conclusions: During medical and psychological consultations in perinatal palliative care, special attention should be paid to parents with a genetic background of LLFC due to a worse mental health especially in mothers and to fathers who reported somatic problems connected with conviction of a child’s bad health condition.

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Palliative Medicine in Practice