Parental attachment and depressive symptoms in pregnancies complicated by twin-twin transfusion syndrome: a cohort study

Fiona L. Mackie, Helen Pattison, Jelena Jankovic, R. Katie Morris, Mark D. Kilby

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BACKGROUND: Twin-twin transfusion syndrome (TTTS) is a highly morbid condition in which treatment exists, but the pregnancy remains high-risk until delivery. It may have serious sequelae, including fetal death, and in the longer term, neurodevelopmental problems. The aim of this study is to assess antenatal and postnatal parental attachment and depressive symptoms in those with pregnancies affected by TTTS.

METHODS: Couples attending for fetoscopic laser ablation treatment of TTTS were asked to complete Condon's Maternal/Paternal Antenatal/Postnatal Attachment Scale as appropriate, and the Edinburgh Depression Scale the day before ablation, 4 weeks post-ablation, and 6-10 weeks postnatally.

RESULTS: 25/27 couples completed the pre-ablation questionnaire (median gestational age 19 + 3 weeks [interquartile range 18 + 2-20 + 6]). 8/18 eligible couples returned the post-ablation questionnaire. 5/17 eligible couples returned the postnatal questionnaire. There was no significant difference in parento-fetal attachment when mothers were compared to fathers at each time point, however parento-fetal attachment did increase over time in mothers (p = 0.004), but not fathers. Mothers reported more depressive symptoms antenatally compared to fathers (p < 0.02), but there was no difference postnatally. 50% women reported Edinburgh Depression Scale scores above the cut-off (≥15) 4 weeks post-ablation. Over time maternal depressive symptoms decreased (p = 0.006), however paternal depressive symptoms remained the same.

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first attachment and depression study in a UK cohort of parents with pregnancies affected by TTTS. Although this was a small cohort and the questionnaires used had not been validated in these circumstances, the results suggest that centres caring for these couples should be aware of the risk of maternal and paternal antenatal depression, and screen and refer for additional psychological support. Further work is needed in larger cohorts.

TRIAL REGISTRATION: ISRCTN 13114861 (retrospectively registered).

Original languageEnglish
Article number4
JournalBMC pregnancy and childbirth
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

© The Author(s). 2019. Open Access -
This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Funding: Richard and Jack Wiseman Trust (charity number 1036690).


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