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Fetal motility was observed by ultrasound scan in 15 pregnant women awaiting amniocentesis, in order to assess the effects of maternal stress on fetal motor behavior. Amniocentesis was considered a stress situation giving rise to maternal anxiety not artificially induced. The control group consisted of 15 pregnant women undergoing routine ultrasound examination. Fetal motor activity was assessed in terms of quantity and quality. Anxiety was measured using the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (S.T.A.I.). Fetuses showed a significantly higher motor activity (p < 0.01), although qualitative differences did not appear in the experimental group.

Anxiety score was also found to be higher than in controls (p < 0.002 for the State and p < 0.05 for the Trait anxiety). Results are discussed in relation to possible implications for the psychosomatic development of the child.


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Nicolino Rossi,* Paola Avveduti,* Nicola Rizzo,** Raffaele Lorusso**

The authors' affiliations are as follows: *Nicolino Rossi, Paola Aweduti, Department of Psychology, **Nicola Rizzo, Raffaele Lorusso, Prenatal Physiopathology Unit, II Institute of Obstetrics, University of Bologna, Viale Berti, Pichat n5, 40127 Bologna, Italy. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. Rossi.

JOURNAL OF PRENATAL AND PERINATAL PSYCHOLOGY AND HEALTH publishes research and clinical articles from the cutting edge of the science of prenatal and perinatal psychology and health. The journal, published quarterly since 1986, is dedicated to the in-depth exploration human reproduction and pregnancy and the mental and emotional development of the unborn and newborn child.

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