Bill Would Provide Early Intervention for Mothers Suffering from Postpartum Depression

HARRISBURG — Newborn and infant children of mothers affected by postpartum depression (PPD) will be eligible for early intervention services under legislation jointly introduced today by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington) and Judy Schwank (D-Berks).

Senate Bill 1269 would add PPD to the list of conditions that qualify for assessments, tracking and early intervention services. The state already monitors infants with certain medical conditions, such as low birth weight or lead poisoning, as well as those born into potentially dangerous environments, including children born to chemically dependent mothers, homeless children and infants who suffer from abuse and neglect.

“Postpartum depression is a severe and potentially long-lasting condition that can put the health of the mother and the baby at risk,” Bartolotta said. “By adding postpartum depression to the list of qualifying conditions, we hope to ensure that infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition have access to the services that are already in place in our communities to support healthy child development.”

“All babies deserve a healthy start in life,” said Schwank, Senate Democratic chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. “Making sure that babies of mothers with PPD are able to get available services they may need is important, and it just makes sense for both the mother and child.”

The American Psychological Association estimates that more than one in seven new mothers experience PPD. The condition can adversely affect a baby’s cognitive development, and carries an increased risk of abuse and neglect.

Postpartum depression is typically defined as a major depressive episode for the mother arising either during her pregnancy or within a year of the baby’s birth.  About 21,000 babies and mothers in Pennsylvania annually are believed to suffer from it, and the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all mothers be screened for this illness. 

CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463 (Senator Bartolotta)

                        William Casey (717) 787-8925 (Senator Schwank)