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Postpartum depression treatment gets a second chance

Posted Jan 27 2009 3:58pm
By SUSAN DOWD STONE
Featured Blogger

U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J., has reintroduced postpartum depression legislation in Senate.

Today, I had the joy of participating in a conference call with the office of Senator Menendez and the other organizational sponsors of The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act where we received the heads up that U.S. Senator Robert Menendez was hoping to reintroduce the bill today. And as of this afternoon, that is exactly what he has done!! For hundreds of thousands of American mothers and families, this renews the hope that 2009 will indeed be the year when Congress acknowledges our nation's mothers by addressing the full spectrum of maternal experience and finally passing this legislation.

The statistics we have on the numbers of women suffering from perinatal mood disorders (which range from 12 to 22 percent in the research) easily exceed the incidence associated with a public health crisis. And remember, these statistics, do NOT include the suffering of women who miscarry, endure stillbirths, give up babies for adoption or terminate pregnancies, all of whom are also susceptible to these devastating disorders and whose circumstances are included in the furthering of research and support being sought.

It is not too soon to begin contacting the senators in your state to let them know you support this long overdue legislation!! And while you are at it, feel free to express your support to U.S. Senator Robert Menendez for whose steadfast determination we are so very grateful.Thank you to Senator Robert Menendez and the bill's other leading cosponsors, Senators Richard Durbin, D-Ill., and Olympia Snowe, R-Me.

If your organization would like to become a sponsor of this crucial bill, please contact Emma Palmer in Senator Menendez's office at 202-224-4744.

Please visit again soon for the link to an online petition which will be available across the country.

The latest copy of the The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, follows the official press release below!

COMBATING POSTPARTUM DEPRESSION: SEN. MENENDEZ BEGINS PUSH IN 111TH CONGRESS

MOTHERS Act reintroduced in Senate, was close to passage last year

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Robert Menendez, D-N.J. on Jan. 26 officially kicked off his efforts to secure an increased federal commitment to combating postpartum depression by reintroducing the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act in the Senate. The legislation, which is co-sponsored by Sens. Richard Durbin, D-Ill. and Olympia Snowe, R-Me., has support from Senate leadership. It was nearing passage last year, despite being blocked from a vote on the Senate floor by Senator Tom Coburn, R-Okla., who has objected to this and other bills targeting specific diseases on ideological grounds.

“We gained significant support for this effort to combat postpartum depression over the last two years, which makes me optimistic that we will be able to deliver this gift to new mothers,” said Senator Menendez. “Increasingly, my colleagues in the Senate are learning about the vicious, debilitating nature of postpartum depression and how it affects families, and they understand why this initiative is so important. We have to attack postpartum depression on all fronts – with education, support, and research – so that new moms can feel supported and safe rather than scared and alone.”
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 Health and Human Services (HHS) 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.

The Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, sponsored by Senator Menendez and Representative Rush, will help provide support services to women suffering from postpartum depression and psychosis and will also help educate mothers and their families about these conditions. In addition, it will support research into the causes, diagnoses and treatments for postpartum depression and psychosis.
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