6 Scopus citations


Objective The aim of this study was to compare trajectories of maternal and paternal psychological distress after prenatal diagnosis of fetal moderate-severe congenital heart disease (CHD), from pregnancy through early-mid infancy. Methods Pregnant women who received a prenatal diagnosis of fetal moderate-severe CHD, and their partners, were enrolled in a prospective, longitudinal study. Symptoms of psychological distress were measured twice during pregnancy and twice after birth, using the Depression Anxiety Stress Scales (DASS-42). Patterns and predictors of psychological distress were examined using generalized hierarchical linear modeling. Results Psychological distress was present in 42% (18/43) of mothers and 22% (8/36) of fathers at least once during the study. The rates of distress did not differ between mothers and fathers. There was also no change in probability of distress over time or difference in distress trajectories between mothers and fathers. However, individual trajectories demonstrated considerable variability in symptoms for both mothers and fathers. Predictors of psychological distress included low social support for mothers and a history of mental health conditions for fathers. Conclusions Parents who receive a prenatal diagnosis of fetal CHD commonly report symptoms of psychological distress from the time of diagnosis through early-mid infancy and display highly variable trajectories. These data suggest that early and repeated psychological screening is important once a fetal CHD diagnosis is made and that providing mental health and social support to parents may be an important component of their ongoing care.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)305-316
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of pediatric psychology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2023


  • anxiety
  • congenital heart disease
  • depression
  • prenatal diagnosis
  • stress


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