Distress associated with prenatal screening for fetal abnormality

Marci Lobel, Lynette Dias, Bruce A. Meyer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


A theoretically-based, multivariate approach was used to identify factors associated with emotional distress for pregnant women undergoing maternal serum alpha fetoprotein (MSAFP or AFP) testing, used to detect abnormalities of the fetal brain and spinal cord. Participants were those who received normal results (N = 87). Study results supported the hypothesis that different factors would predict distress before and after testing. Satisfaction with information about testing predicted lower emotional distress early in the testing process; concerns about the child having other medical conditions and low-dispositional optimism predicted distress later. Study findings indicate that even in women who receive normal test results, AFP testing is associated with a modest degree of emotional disturbance which declines, but does not completely abate, after testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)65-76
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Behavioral Medicine
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 2005


  • AFP test
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal screening
  • Stress

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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