Can postpartum depression be managed in pediatric primary care?

Su Chin Serene Olin, Bonnie Kerker, Ruth E.K. Stein, Dara Weiss, Emma D. Whitmyre, Kimberly Hoagwood, Sarah M. Horwitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

22 Scopus citations


Background: Postpartum depression is prevalent among women who have had a baby within the last 12 months. Depression can compromise parenting practices, child development, and family stability. Effective treatments are available, but access to mental healthcare is challenging. Routine infant healthcare visits represent the most regular contact mothers have with the healthcare system, making pediatric primary care (PPC) an ideal venue for managing postpartum depression. Methods: We conducted a review of the published literature on postpartum depression programs. This was augmented with a Google search of major organizations' websites to identify relevant programs. Programs were included if they focused on clinical care practices, for at-risk or depressed women during the first year postpartum, which were delivered within the primary care setting. Results: We found that 18 programs focused on depression care for mothers of infants; 12 were developed for PPC. All programs used a screening tool. Psychosocial risk assessments were commonly used to guide care strategies, which included brief counseling, motivating help seeking, engaging social supports, and facilitating referrals. Available outcome data suggest the importance of addressing postpartum depression within primary care and providing staff training and support. The evidence is strongest in family practices and community-based health settings. More outcome data are needed in pediatric practices. Conclusion: Postpartum depression can be managed within PPC. Psychosocial strategies can be integrated as part of anticipatory guidance. Critical supports for primary care clinicians, especially in pediatric practices, are needed to improve access to timely nonstigmatizing care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-390
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Women's Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 1 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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