Screening for maternal depression in primary care pediatrics

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2009 Dec;21(6):789-93. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0b013e328331e798.


Purpose of review: An estimated 10-20% of mothers suffer from postpartum depression. Given its profound impact on both mother and infant and the availability of effective interventions, pediatricians can improve identification and referral of mothers with postpartum depression by screening regularly during well child visits. The purpose of this paper is to review and assess recently developed screening tools.

Recent findings: Since the development of the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale in 1987, several shorter screening tools have been introduced. Although further innovation to optimize appropriate identification of postpartum depression is critical, these brief tools have been shown to be useful in improving pediatrician recognition of depression in mothers and referral to psychiatric specialists.

Summary: Recently developed brief screening tools are recommended for routine use by pediatricians during well child visits to identify mothers who need additional evaluation for depression. Screening should be conducted repeatedly during the first year of child rearing as symptoms of postpartum depression may appear at any time and its progression may help differentiate between mild and more severe forms of depression. Pediatricians can also provide appropriate follow-up of the family.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Depression, Postpartum / diagnosis*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods*
  • Pediatrics / methods*
  • Primary Health Care / methods*
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors