- Pediatricians have a role in recognizing and coordinating care for perinatal maternal depression, says the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in this policy statement.
Why this matters
- Maternal depression around the time of birth is the most common obstetric complication in the United States.
- Postpartum depression (PPD), in particular, adversely affects newborn development.
- This statement says that pediatricians are “in a good position to recognize the signs of PPD” because of their frequent contact with parents.
- Screen routinely for PPD at 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-month well-child visits.
- At least 1 PPD screening in first 6 months postpartum should be in the quality metrics used for payment.
- Advocate for improved access to treatment for mothers screening positive for PPD.
- Promote evidence-based interventions for health attachment.
- For a brief intervention during a visit:
- Promote strength of mother-child relationship.
- Encourage mother, especially regarding feeding concerns.
- Encourage understanding and response to infant cues and reading and talking to the infant.
- Emphasize the importance of routines (sleep, diet, exercise, stress relief) for safety and predictability.
- Talk about realistic expectations and priority setting.
- Encourage making/maintaining social connections.
- Screen for infant social-emotional development as follow-up.
- Refer to mental health professional as appropriate, warranted.