Cardiac Center

Psychological Impact of Prenatal Diagnosis of Congenital Heart Disease

The Fetal Heart Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, begun in 2001, now conducts 2,400 fetal echocardiograms every year. Heart disease is the most common birth defect in humans. Better screening has led to increased numbers of prenatal diagnoses, which allows for better preparation and treatment.

Last year more than 200 children received care from prenatal diagnosis through delivery and admission to the Cardiac Intensive Care Unit. Although the benefits to the baby are considerable, the staff members of the Fetal Heart Program recognize a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease subjects parents to considerable stress.

With the support of a remarkable gift from Anne and John Bazik, Director of the Fetal Heart Program Jack Rychik, MD, and Program Coordinator Denise Donaghue are working with Children’s Hospital psychologists on a study that will evaluate psychological and emotional needs of families in the program. Rychik and his colleagues believe that understanding the psychological impact of prenatal diagnoses on family members will result in the ability to better counsel and support them.

The findings of this study will help Fetal Heart Program staff to treat both patients and family members in a more comprehensive manner when a prenatal diagnosis of congenital heart disease is made, resulting in the best outcomes possible.

Download the PDF version of Studying the Psychological Impact of Prenatal Diagnosis.

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