(HealthDay News) – Mothers who receive a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease (CHD) commonly report posttraumatic stress, depression, and anxiety, according to research published online Sept 12 in The Journal of Pediatrics.

Jack Rychik, MD, of the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, and colleagues conducted a study involving 59 pregnant women whose fetus had been diagnosed with serious CHD requiring newborn assessment and cardiac surgery or catheterization within six months after birth. The authors sought to determine how this diagnosis impacted maternal psychological stress. Participants completed a survey two to four weeks after the initial diagnosis.

The researchers found that, overall, 39% of mothers exhibited clinically important traumatic distress, 22% reported depression, and 31% exhibited anxiety. Women with low partner satisfaction exhibited higher levels of depression and anxiety. Regardless of income or partner satisfaction, denial was associated with higher levels of depression, anxiety, and traumatic stress, while acceptance of the diagnosis reduced depression.

“Our study supports the notion that maternal psychological support is an important intervention that may someday accompany prenatal diagnosis of CHD, in order to potentially improve outcomes for both fetus and mother,” Rychik said in a statement.

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