Psychological outcome in women undergoing termination of pregnancy for ultrasound-detected fetal anomaly in the first and second trimesters: a pilot study

Davies V

Gledhill J

McFadyen A

Whitlow B

Economides D

Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Apr 2005


To ascertain and compare psychological morbidity following first- and second-trimester termination for fetal anomaly.


This was a cohort study of 30 women aged 20-40 years in a north London teaching hospital, 14 of whom had had a first-trimester termination and 16 a second-trimester termination for fetal anomaly. The main outcome measures were questionnaire data (General Health Questionnaire-28, Beck Depression Inventory, Perinatal Grief Scale, Impact of Event Scale (IES)) at 6 weeks, 6 months and 12 months after termination.


There were high levels of psychological distress in both groups at each time point, and for the combined group the mean total scores on the IES remained above the cut-off for the entire study period. Those having second-trimester terminations had a significantly higher level of post-traumatic stress symptomatology 6 weeks after termination (14/16 vs. 6/14; odds ratio = 9.3; 95% CI, 1.5-57.7).


Psychological morbidity following termination of pregnancy for fetal anomaly is prevalent and persistent. Our data suggest that in the short term (as assessed at a 6-week follow-up), second-trimester termination may be more stressful compared with first-trimester termination.