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
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends integrating PPD surveillance and screening at the 1-, 2-, 4-, and 6-month well-child visits.2,8READ AAP RECOMMENDATION
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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- STAR Center: Screening Recommendations. American Academy of Pediatrics website. https://www.aap.org/en-us/advocacy-and-policy/aap-health-initiatives/Screening/Pages/Screening-Recommendations.aspx. 2018. Accessed May 17, 2018.