Help for Depressed Mothers, and Their Children

In this letter to the editor of The New York Times, Olivia Golden discusses maternal depressing screening.

Re: “Panel Urges Screening for Maternal Depression” (front page, Jan. 27):

The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommendation for maternal depression screening is especially important for low-income families. One in nine poor infants has a mother with severe depression, and more than half live with a mother experiencing some level of depression.

Many low-income mothers with depression, including more than a third with a major depressive disorder, go untreated. Unfortunately, untreated maternal depression hurts children, particularly young children, placing their safety and development at risk.

We need more states to join the nine that, according to a recent study by the National Center for Children in Poverty, already allow a family’s trusted pediatrician to screen for maternal depression using the child’s Medicaid coverage.

Beyond screening, as noted in a recent Center for Law and Social Policy report, new provisions in the Affordable Care Act offer a large-scale opportunity to treat maternal depression so that mothers and children can escape poverty. The task force’s recommendation underlines the urgency of these reforms.


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