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Keeping postpartum depression in the public eye

Posted May 12 2009 3:27pm
Sen. Robert Menendez, D-NJ, former New Jersey First Lady Mary Jo Codey, other advocates and health professionals are joining forces to push for the passage of Menendez’s legislation that would increase the federal commitment to combating postpartum depression.

The MOTHERS Act has wide support in Congress, but has been blocked primarily because of the opposition of a singular senator, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-OK. Codey has been public about her battle with postpartum depress and in support of the legislation.

Menendez said Mother’s Day "was not only a day to celebrate our mothers, but also to reflect on the burdens and challenges many of them face because of their enormous responsibility."

"Millions of mothers know all too well that postpartum depression is not only a real and debilitating condition, but that the education and support system is lacking. A federal commitment to educating and supporting new and expectant mothers can go a long way toward protecting women’s health and maintaining strong families.”

Postpartum depression is a serious and disabling condition affecting hundreds of thousands of new mothers each year. The new legislation would increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:

- Encouraging the Department of Health and Human Services to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions;

- Encouraging a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis;

- Requiring the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis;

- Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions.

Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.

It is estimated that postpartum depression (PPD) affects from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. The cause of PPD isn’t known but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, and a family history of depression are considered possible factors.
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