Should pediatricians screen for postpartum depression?


A recent study (as in February/March 2016, hot off the press) “Identifying Maternal Depression in Pediatric Primary Care: Changes Over a Decade” concluded that less than half of pediatricians screen or ask about maternal depression.  This is a missed opportunity if you ask me.  What provider does a new mother typically see more than any other provider?  Her child’s pediatrician!  The pediatrician can detect a perinatal mood and/or anxiety disorder and refer women for evidence-based psychological care.  OK, so note to self, start to chat with more pediatricians in Tucson to see how I can provide education and/or services.  And, of course, I am sure there is more to the picture and I have a lot to learn.

So then the article suggests that more training is needed to help understand how crucial a mother’s mental health is to the development of her children.  Isn’t this so obvious?? What is the possible argument against this?  I can totally help people understand that link.  Oh yes.

The silver lining…..perhaps the good news is that between 2004 (N=457) and 2013 (N=321) the prevalence of pediatricians asking or screening for maternal depression went up from 33% to 44%.  Still a ways to go but it is important to celebrate successes along the way, right?

Citation: Kerker, B.D. et al. (2016). Identifying Maternal Depression in Pediatric Primary Care: Changes Over a Decade.  Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics, 37(2): 113-120.

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