Maternal PPD

Around 40% of mothers are affects by maternal depression, but screenings by care providers are not being performed often enough, found a recent in the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics. The researchers found that less than half of pediatricians routinely screen mothers for postpartum depression.

Postpartum depression is a serious condition that requires treatment. Photo by Johanna Ljungblom

Postpartum depression is a serious condition that requires treatment. Photo by Johanna Ljungblom

The study’s survey of 321 general practice pediatricians in 2013 did, however, reveal good news compared to an earlier survey from 457 pediatricians in 2004. The proportion of pediatricians screening moms for depression increased 11% over that decade. These screenings follow updated guidelines from the US Task Force for Preventative Services.

It is encouraging that more pediatricians are screening for maternal depression, but more needs to be done so all doctors can screen mothers. Some states may not reimburse providers for appointment time used to talk about maternal mental health, clinics may not have treatment options, and families may not follow through with treatment if it requires going to another location.

The authors of this study believe that the next generation of providers can improve the well being of children and their families if they are trained in screening for mental health.  Collaborative programs involving pediatricians, psychologists, psychiatrists, and social workers can be particularly effective in identifying and treating mental health concerns.