Saint Louis University has received a three-year, $460,000 grant from the Maternal Child and Family Health Coalition (MCHFC) and St. Louis Mental Health Board to expand efforts to detect and treat postpartum depression in new mothers.
Currently, SLUCare pediatricians and pediatric nurse practitioners at SSM Cardinal Glennon Children's Medical Center screen new moms for postpartum depression during routine well baby visits for the first two months of the child's life. The new project, Happy Mothers, Healthy Families, expands the program to include screenings during the first six months of well baby visits, covering a broader period of time to include more mothers who could develop postpartum depression. The new expanded program also will offer on-site counseling and case-management services to help ensure moms get the treatment they need.
Unlike the "baby blues," which affect nearly 70 percent of all women and is considered a normal emotional experience in the first week or two after giving birth, postpartum depression can occur anytime within the first year of a baby's life. Postpartum depression symptoms also last longer and may require intervention, such as counseling and medication.
On average, postpartum depression affects one in eight new mothers. In urban areas, however, where rates of teen pregnancy and poverty are higher, postpartum depression may affect as many as 30 to 40 percent of moms.
"Postpartum depression affects the whole family," said Matthew Broom, M.D., assistant professor of pediatrics at SLU and project team leader. "Children of depressed mothers are more likely to have developmental delays and attachment issues, and are at greater risk for behavior problems down the road."
"As pediatricians, our number one goal is to have healthy children, and healthy mothers raise healthy children."