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Doctors encourage depression screening during and after pregnancy

January 21, 2010 |  2:00 pm

Pregnancy Pregnancy and the postpartum period are peak times for women to experience depression, and routine screening for the condition should be a priority, say the authors of an opinion paper issued today in the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.

An estimated 14% to 23% of pregnant women experience depression, while 5% to 25% will have postpartum depression. The illness carries serious repercussions for both mother and baby, noted the authors of the paper. During pregnancy, depression raises the risk of preterm birth and other adverse outcomes. After the birth, the mother is not only impacted by depression but infants can suffer cognitive, neurologic and motor skill delays because the mother's illness affects her interactions with her baby.

"We recognize that postpartum depression is a serious health issue that we need to direct more attention toward," Dr. Gerald F. Joseph Jr., president of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said in a news release. "Screening for depression during pregnancy is also important to identify it early on and to help prevent a worsening of the condition after delivery."

-- Shari Roan

Photo credit: Louid Balukoff / Associated Press