Research published in the latest Journal of Advanced Nursing shows that although women wanted to be told immediately if a problem was detected, they didn't want a detailed list of possible problems flagged up in advance, especially as anomalies only affect about two per cent of pregnancies.
Joan Lalor from Trinity College, Dublin, carried out in-depth interviews with 38 women. 35 were carrying a single baby with detected anomalies and three were carrying twins one with anomalies in both twins and the other two with one healthy baby and one baby with anomalies.
The women were interviewed for between one and three hours in their own homes after anomalies were detected during their second trimester scan. The aim of the study was to discover how prepared women actually were for an adverse finding during a routine ultrasound.
Ten of the women were carrying their first child and 28 had been pregnant before. The expectant mothers ranged from 18 to 44 years, with an average age of 33.
15 of the 39 fetuses were affected by lethal anomalies and 11 were non lethal. Surgery was possible in a further 12, but five of these carried a significant risk of death. One displayed a number of anomalous markers, but the prognosis was uncertain.
"The question about how much information should be given to women before scans is one that has challenged healthcare professionals for decades" says Lalor, who co-authored her paper with Professor Cecily Begley, also from the College's School of Nursing.
"For example, the UK's Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has emphasised the need for healthcare professionals to make the objectives of a second trimester scan for anomalies very clear to wo
Contact: Annette Whibley
Blackwell Publishing Ltd.