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Maternal-fetal attachment (MFA) is a process in which a mother-to-be engages in affiliative behaviors with her unborn child. MFA has a bearing on the dyad’s future mother-infant attachment, which in turn is necessary for adequate emotional and physical growth of the baby. Women with severe mental illness are likely to be at risk for impaired MFA.
Maternal-fetal attachment (MFA) is a process in which a mother-to-be engages in affiliative behaviors with her unborn child. MFA has a bearing on the dyad’s future mother-infant attachment, which in turn is necessary for adequate emotional and physical growth of the baby. Women with severe mental illness are likely to be at risk for impaired MFA. This study compared MFA in women with and without severe mental illness in order to study the relationship between MFA and maternal psychopathology. Forty pregnant women with severe mental illness (cases) were compared with 40 pregnant women without any mental illness (controls) in the study. MFA and psychopathology were assessed using the Maternal Fetal Attachment Scale (MFAS), Brief Psychiatric Rating Scale (BPRS), and Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS). It was found that asymptomatic women with severe mental illness do not have significant impairments in attachment to the fetus during pregnancy. This finding is reassuring to women with severe mental illness who wish to become mothers during less symptomatic periods.
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