Depression Screening Suggested for Pregnant Women and New Mothers

New recommendations from a government-commissioned panel state that all U.S. adults, including pregnant and postpartum females, should undergo depression screening when they visit their health care provider.


A government panel of independent experts recommends all women be screened for depression before and after birth.


Depression is the leading cause of disease-related disability in women around the world. Nine percent of pregnant women and 10 percent of new moms will go through a major depressive episode, according to evidence cited by the task force. 


And studies have shown that babies and toddlers with depressed moms are subject to lots of problems. They may be more difficult to console, be less likely to interact or have more sleeping problems.


The independent panel's recommendations are influential — many health insurers and health systems follow their suggestions. But the announcements often come with controversy. Recent and recurring recommendations against automatic annual mammograms for women in their 40s have generated multiple headlines.


But concerns among mental health researchers who got an early glimpse of the advice about testing for depression have been mild — mostly questions about the best depression screening test to use and the importance of emphasizing more research on treatments.