An article published today in the US News and World Report discusses the expanded role pediatric health care providers are playing in screening new mothers for postpartum depression. Because pediatricians have frequent contacts with the mother during the first year of a child’s life and because depression in the mother may negatively affect the child, the American Academy of Pediatricians now recommends that
“There has been progress, but it’s still not the norm for pediatricians to screen for postpartum depression,” says Dr. Catherine Wiley, medical director of the primary care clinic at Connecticut Children’s Medical Center in Hartford.
Like many advocates, Wiley believes pediatric settings provide the “perfect opportunity” to identify and assist mothers who may not realize they are struggling with postpartum depression. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends screening for postpartum depression at a woman’s postpartum visit six weeks after birth. But many women, especially those with limited incomes, skip their postpartum visit, Wiley says.
This is clearly a step in the right direction. We must make sure, however, that we have reliable mechanisms for referring the mothers who need hlep to treaters in the community.
Ruta Nonacs, MD PhD