PNS Daily Newscast - July 19, 2019 

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Depression Screening Recommended for Pregnant Women, Mothers

New guidelines are being recommended to screen pregnant women and mothers earlier for depression (Lorie Tuter)
New guidelines are being recommended to screen pregnant women and mothers earlier for depression (Lorie Tuter)
January 29, 2016

BALTIMORE - Pregnant women and women who recently have given birth should be screened for depression, according to a recommendation by a U.S. Preventive Services Task Force panel, the first for maternal mental-illness screening.

New evidence suggests postpartum depression can begin during pregnancy and, left untreated, can have detrimental outcomes for mother and child. Dr. Dina Lieser, co-director of Docs For Tots, said those outcomes can last well beyond childhood.

"It runs the gamut from emotional challenges and challenging behavior to depression and anxiety themselves to poor school behavior - their own increased rate of many other mental illnesses," she said.

Lieser said parental mental illness also can impact the long-term physical health of a child and lead to issues such as heart disease and diabetes.

Many health-care providers have been reluctant to perform the screenings. Many feel they don't have the resources. New York City has set a goal to screen all pregnant and postpartum women, and Lieser said Maryland and the rest of the nation should follow suit.

"We need a big advocacy effort around how our state incentivizes and reimburses our providers to do this," she said, "and the capacity and technical support that it offers to the primary-care workforce to get the job done."

Lieser said the consequences of not screening women cost the state in school failures, health costs and other challenges. Experts estimate that one in seven postpartum mothers has symptoms of depression.

More information about the recommendations is online at

Nia Hamm/Veronica Carter, Public News Service - MD