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Checking On New Moms During Baby Check-Ups Is Just as Important


Ten to 20 percent of new mothers will experience a mental health issue. A new study indicates that one way to help them is by leaning on pediatricians. 

Most have heard about the "baby blues." It's a short period of time when new mothers experience mood swings after childbirth.

Lisa Honigfeld, Vice President for Health Initiatives at the Child Health and Development Institute of Connecticut, said there are other mental health issues that mothers should know about. "Any mother who does feel some depression, or has some concern about her mental health -- anything that persists over two weeks -- is really problematic, and she should discuss that with somebody." 

Honigfeld said the mental health well-being of new mothers is vital, because it impacts a child's outcomes for years to come.

CHDI did a similar study in 2008. Since that time, Honigfeld said Medicaid and commercial insurers have agreed to pay pediatricians who conduct maternal mental health screenings during well-baby visits. She said Connecticut pediatricians have been receptive to the idea, as long as they can refer mothers to providers who have training to help with disorders like post-partum depression.

"We really have to think about, and put in place, and train people to provide that full spectrum of mental health services for mothers," Honigfeld said. "So two-generational family-based therapy, some group work, all the way to really high-end day treatment programs for mothers."

In 2010, The American Academy of Pediatrics encouraged pediatricians to screen mothers for post-partum depression.

Read the full CHDI report here.

Lucy leads Connecticut Public's strategies to deeply connect and build collaborations with community-focused organizations across the state.

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