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Postpartum depression is a major public health problem that requires more resources

h has shown that postpartum depression disrupts the relationship between the mother and the infant, which can have short- and long-term adverse effects. Maternal depression can negatively impact a newborns mental and motor development and is associated with poor self-regulation, low self-esteem and behavior problems. Postpartum depression also has a dramatic impact on the mothers ability to function, enjoy relationships, cope with the stresses, or appreciate the joys of parenthood.

Dr. Wisner notes that the United States has not, until recently, prioritized postpartum illness as a major public health concern. In fact, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality has reported that while much is known about the risks and vulnerabilities of the postpartum period, there is a significant lack of substantial high-quality research in this area.

Based on the recent study and past findings, Dr. Wisner recommends in the editorial that the United States take steps to implement a universal screening program, in which all women are screened between two- and 12-weeks postpartum. Those presenting with symptoms of a psychiatric disorder should be treated immediately after diagnosis, she says.

The State of New Jersey has been the first to address the problem on the governmental level by legislating that all women receive screening and education for postpartum depression; the law went into effect in October.

The University of Pittsburgh is conducting the first large-scale National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)-funded trial of screening, treatment preference and depression care management methods. This study aims to evaluate screening methods and interventions for postpartum depression, and the researchers hope that the information gained through this study will be used to develop universal best practices for screening and treatment.


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Contact: Jocelyn Uhl Duffy
UhlJH@upmc.edu
412-647-3555
University of Pittsburgh Medical Center
5-Dec-2006


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