U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Interventions to Prevent Perinatal Depression > Hospital Association of Pennsylvania


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U.S. Preventive Services Task Force Recommends Interventions to Prevent Perinatal Depression

March 13, 2019

Perinatal depression, the occurrence of a depressive disorder during pregnancy or following childbirth, affects as many as one in seven women resulting in adverse short- and long-term effects on both the woman and child. 

Consistent with recognition of the importance of addressing and preventing perinatal depression, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF), an independent, volunteer panel of national experts in prevention and evidence-based medicine, released a final recommendation statement, which was published in a recent issue of Health Affairs.

While the report notes that there currently is “no accurate screening tool for identifying women at risk of perinatal depression and who might benefit from preventive interventions,” there are some risk factors that may be associated with perinatal depression, including:

  • Family history
  • Pregnancy complications
  • Socioeconomic status
  • Presence of pregestational or gestational diabetes
  • History of physical or sexual abuse

USPSTF found that counseling can help prevent perinatal depression in women at increased risk and recommends that clinicians provide or refer pregnant and postpartum women who are at increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions.

In reviewing the benefits and harms of preventive interventions for perinatal depression in pregnant or postpartum women, USPSTF found convincing evidence that counseling interventions are effective in preventing perinatal depression. USPSTF assigned a "B" grade to the recommendation based on the strength of the evidence and the balance of benefits and harms of a preventive service, meaning all copays and deductibles for the intervention services are waived under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). ACA coverage of essential health benefits, as well as supporting patients in receiving crucial preventative care, have been significant steps in solidifying and expanding access to care for millions of Pennsylvanians.

Pennsylvania’s hospital community continues to share and adopt best practices related to prioritizing improved access to behavioral health services, as well as integrating physical and behavioral health care. Additionally, obstetricians and pediatricians, as well as stakeholders from across Pennsylvania, are working together on a Perinatal Quality Collaborative to improve maternal and infant health outcomes.

For more information, contact Jennifer Jordan, HAP’s vice president, regulatory advocacy. 

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