Abstract

In 1970, before the introduction of prenatal diagnosis of chromosome anomalies, an unpublished questionnaire study concerning the social and emotional situation of mothers of children with Down syndrome was conducted in southern Germany. To assess the psychosocial impact of the availability of prenatal diagnosis on parents of genetically handicapped children, we re-evaluated and repeated the 1970 study over 30 years later. Although mothers' feelings of guilt for having a child with disabilities remained on a low level, today's mothers have a stronger feeling of being involuntarily segregated in society. On the other hand, they more often experience support and respect from outside, particularly through self-support groups; moreover, tendencies of active withdrawal from social life have decreased.

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