American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition
American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference and Exhibition
October 28, 2016
1 min read

Postpartum depression screening in pediatric ED effective accepted

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SAN FRANCISCO — Screening for postpartum depression in a pediatric ED was effective and accepted among mothers of young infants, according to recent study findings presented at the 2016 AAP National Conference and Exhibition.

“Postpartum depression occurs in up to 20% of mothers. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends routine screening for [postpartum depression]. Screening is not always performed in the outpatient setting. The pediatric ED serves as a safety-net for vulnerable, high-risk populations, and may be a useful site for screening,” Lenore Jarvis, MD, of Children’s National Health System, Washington, D.C., wrote.

Lenore Jarvis

To assess acceptability and impact of postpartum depression screening in the pediatric ED, researchers conducted a prospective, cross-sectional survey of mothers of children aged 6 months or younger who presented with low-acuity complaints (n = 209). Mothers completed a computerized survey that included the Edinburgh Postnatal Depression Scale.

Overall, 27% of mothers screened positive for postpartum depression and 7% reported suicidal thoughts.

Forty-seven percent of mothers had previously never been screened, including 58% of those who screened positive for postpartum depression and 40% of those who reported suicidal thoughts.

When adjusting for maternal age, education level, marital status, infant age and infant insurance status, current unemployment status was associated with a positive screen for postpartum depression (aOR = 2.3; 95% CI, 1.1-4.9).

Seventy-three percent of study participants viewed ED-based postpartum depression screening favorably.

At 1-month follow-up, more than 90% of mothers who screened positively reported postpartum depression screening in the pediatric ED was important for both infant and maternal health.

Most mothers who screened positively reported positive impacts of screening, including increased access to support (83%), as 31% of mothers sought help from their doctor or pediatrician and 17% saw a mental health professional.

“Approximately 1 in 4 mothers screened positive for [postpartum depression] in an urban [pediatric ED] and the majority of postpartum depression-screen positive mothers had not been screened previously. [Pediatric ED]-based screening was well-accepted and had a positive impact. Our study informs future efforts for interventions to support mothers of young infants who use the [pediatric ED] for care,” she concluded. – by Amanda Oldt


Jarvis L. Postpartum depression screening in a pediatric ED: High prevalence and screening acceptability. Presented at: AAP National Conference and Exhibition; Oct. 21-25, 2016; San Francisco.

Disclosure: Jarvis reports no relevant financial disclosures.