The Centers for Disease Control found that 15 percent of mothers of newborns suffer from postpartum depression, which could lead to slower physical growth and mental development for their child.
“And those are just the [mothers] that seek help or admit that they have a problem,” said Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington, Greene). “There is such a stigma to moms with post-partum depression and a lot of them don’t even know what they have.”
That led Bartolotta to introduce Senate Bill 1269, which would add postpartum depression to the list of conditions for which newborns (and mothers) are screened for in Pennsylvania. Examples of other at-risk categories currently screened for by law include low-birth-weight children; children cared for in neonatal intensive care units; children who are homeless; children born to chemically dependent mothers; and children with confirmed dangerous levels of lead poisoning.
If postpartum depression was detected, the bill would make the child eligible for early intervention services. The measure also allows for providers to create those intervention programs.
Bartolotta said she hopes the screening will help to start a conversation with a new mother.
“Then a mom’s a lot more ready and able to say, ‘you know, yeah. I do have those symptoms. Is this normal? I thought it was just me,’” said Bartolotta who believes this will save the state money in the long run. “It will identify an issue before there is a great need for therapy, for intervention.”
If the Senate passes the bill it would still have to be approved by the House, which has only six more voting days before the end of the biennial session. Bartolotta said she is still optimistic of passage given the bipartisan support for the measure.
“Let this one of our success stories of this session,” Bartolotta said.