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Pediatricians Have Role in Screen for Postpartum Depression

MONDAY, Dec. 17, 2018 — Pediatric physicians should screen women for postpartum depression (PPD) at well-child visits and make use of community resources for treatment and referral, according to a policy statement and technical report published online Dec. 17 in Pediatrics.

Marian F. Earls, M.D., from the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill, and colleagues discuss opportunities for pediatric primary care clinicians in identifying PPD. The authors note that screening has proven successful in several initiatives and locations and can be implemented in office workflow. Routine screening should be integrated into well-child visits at ages 1, 2, 4, and 6 months, and community resources should be used for treatment and referral of mothers with depression. Support should be provided for the maternal-child relationship, including breastfeeding support. Stakeholders should work toward increasing awareness of the need for perinatal depression screening.

In a technical report, Jason Rafferty, M.D., M.P.H., from Thundermist Health Centers in Providence, Rhode Island, and colleagues noted that although there were significant gains in screening rates from 2004 to 2013, only a minority of pediatricians routinely screened for perinatal depression. Pediatric providers have a critical role in screening and supporting parents and their infants in cases of perinatal depression.

“We know that postpartum depression can be a form of toxic stress that can affect an infant’s brain development and cause problems with family relationships, breastfeeding, and the child’s medical treatment,” Rafferty said in a statement. “Pediatricians are in a unique position to help identify parents in need of extra support.”

Policy Statement
Technical Report

Posted: December 2018

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