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Despite temporary depressive symptoms, pregnant women showed good attitudes toward the first 12 weeks of pre-eclampsia screening.

Pre-eclampsia (PE) affects 2–5% of pregnancies and is a major cause of maternal and fetal morbidity and death, accounting for 12% of all maternal fatalities worldwide. However, the most successful diagnostic strategy for PE in the early stages of pregnancy involves a mix of maternal variables and physiological and psychological indicators. This study, published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, aimed to improve knowledge of the psychological effects of PE testing on women in all stages of pregnancy.

Participants were evaluated for pre-term PE risk in the initial pregnancy stage, with evaluations conducted before screening and in the second and third trimesters. Low- and high-risk women were evaluated for symptoms of distress, including anxiety, depression, physical and mental health, and worry; attitudes about PE screening; their pregnancy experience; and changes in behavior regarding health.

The Emotional Divide of High- and Low-Risk Pregnancies

The difference between high- and low-risk women was significant in the 2nd trimester, with high-risk women reporting greater signs of depression in the 2nd but not the initial or final trimesters. At any stage of evaluation, no differences in other symptoms of distress, psychological well-being, or concern for one’s own or one’s child’s health were found between the two groups.

Lifestyle and Pregnancy-Related Risk Factors
There were disparities in diet and activity between the high-risk and low-risk PE groups in the subsequent and final trimesters. The high-risk group reported greater lifestyle-related changes in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters than the low-risk group. The favorable PE diagnostic result probably prompted high-risk women to reconsider their health practices in dangerous circumstances.

Pregnancy Experience and Perception of Screening
Except for one, all high-risk pregnant women had a satisfactory pregnancy experience, and low-risk women reported a comparable experience. Furthermore, low-risk pregnant women perceived more benefits from screening than high-risk pregnant women.

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Importance of Screening During Pregnancy

Assessment for depression and supporting women with elevated depression levels are crucial for enhancing a mother’s psychological health both before and after birth. Such developments are expected to assist women in changing their health practices and taking care of themselves, positively impacting the baby they are expecting. As a result of this forethought, the risk of pre-eclampsia should be reduced.

Sources:

Nikčević, A. V., Sacchi, C., Marino, C., O’Gorman, N., Poon, L. C., & Nicolaides, K. H. (2023). Psychological Impact and Women’s Evaluation of the First-Trimester Pre-Eclampsia Screening and Prevention: ASPRE Trial. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 20(7), 5418. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph20075418