Role of the Pediatrician

Pediatricians can play an important role in helping to identify postpartum depression (PPD).1

Access to moms at risk

While standard postpartum care for mothers consists of a single visit at the 6-week mark, standard well-child care involves multiple visits over the months following birth. Pediatricians have the most frequent exposure to mothers and babies in the most high-risk time period for PPD, and therefore may have opportunities to identify PPD.1,2

Impact on babies

Pediatricians have a vested interest in the well-being of the child and mother.1 Symptoms of PPD can hinder a baby’s physical, mental, and emotional development by interfering with the mother–child bond.3-7

AAP Recommendation

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends integrating PPD surveillance and screening at the 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-month well-child visits.2,8


Communication between physicians

The AAP highlights the importance for pediatricians to communicate with OB/GYNs and/or PCPs when it comes to treatment referrals to keep them in the loop regarding the mother’s PPD.2

  1. Currie ML, Rademacher R. The pediatrician’s role in recognizing and intervening in postpartum depression. Pediatr Clin North Am. 2004;51(3):785-801, xi.
  2. Earls MF; Committee on Psychosocial Aspects of Child and Family Health American Academy of Pediatrics. Incorporating recognition and management of perinatal and postpartum depression into pediatric practice. Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):1032-1039.
  3. Surkan PJ, Ettinger AK, Hock RS, Ahmed S, Strobino DM, Minkovitz CS. Early maternal depressive symptoms and child growth trajectories: a longitudinal analysis of a nationally representative US birth cohort. BMC Pediatr. 2014;14:185.
  4. Verkuijl NE, Richter L, Norris SA, Stein A, Avan B, Ramchandani PG. Postnatal depressive symptoms and child psychological development at 10 years: a prospective study of longitudinal data from the South African Birth to Twenty cohort. Lancet Psychiatry. 2014;1(6):454-460.
  5. Woolhouse H, Gartland D, Mensah F, Giallo R, Brown S. Maternal depression from pregnancy to 4 years postpartum and emotional/behavioural difficulties in children: results from a prospective pregnancy cohort study. Arch Womens Ment Health. 2016;19(1):141-151.
  6. Netsi E, Pearson RM, Murray L, Cooper P, Craske MG, Stein A. Association of persistent and severe postnatal depression with child outcomes. JAMA Psychiatry. 2018;75(3):247-253.
  7. Hanington L, Heron J, Stein A, Ramchandani P. Parental depression and child outcomes—is marital conflict the missing link? Child Care Health Dev. 2011;39(4):520-529.
  8. STAR Center: Screening Recommendations. American Academy of Pediatrics website. 2018. Accessed May 17, 2018.