Prenatal counselling for congenital anomalies

a systematic review

Sarah Marokakis, Nadine A. Kasparian, Sean E. Kennedy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: Prenatal diagnosis of fetal anomalies may arouse fear, anxiety and distress in parents, and counselling may assist parents to cope with the diagnosis. This systematic review aimed to (1) synthesise the evidence on the impact of non-genetic, prenatal counselling after fetal diagnosis of a congenital anomaly on parental knowledge and psychological adjustment and (2) identify parents' preferences for the timing and format of counselling. Method: Five electronic databases were systematically searched to identify studies assessing prenatal counselling provided to parents after prenatal diagnosis of one or more structural congenital anomalies. Data were extracted using predefined data forms, according to the preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses guidelines, and synthesised. Result: Twenty four articles were included for review; most articles reported results of retrospective surveys and the quality of included studies was variable. Only three studies assessed parental anxiety, and each reported a significant decrease in anxiety following prenatal counselling. Parents expressed a preference for counselling on all aspects of their baby's anomaly as soon as possible after prenatal diagnosis, and desired written, visual and web-based information resources, and support group contacts. Conclusion: Although prenatal counselling reduced parental anxiety, further research is needed to adequately assess the impact of prenatal counselling on other psychological outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)662-671
Number of pages10
JournalPrenatal Diagnosis
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes

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    Marokakis, S., Kasparian, N. A., & Kennedy, S. E. (2016). Prenatal counselling for congenital anomalies: a systematic review. Prenatal Diagnosis, 36(7), 662-671.