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ACOG: Screening for Maternal Depression Insufficient

One in 10 women have major or minor depression during pregnancy or the postnatal period

THURSDAY, May 10 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women are routinely tested for rare birth defects, but not enough women are being screened for maternal depression, experts said at the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' annual meeting in San Diego.

An estimated one in 10 women will have major or minor depression sometime during pregnancy or the postnatal period.

Physicians may feel uncertainty about diagnosing and treating depression due to limited training in this area, according to Paul A. Gluck, M.D., of the University of Miami School of Medicine in Florida. However, untreated depression is associated with poor outcomes, such as premature birth or intrauterine growth restriction.

"There are several formal, self-administered tools to assist with the screening process that are both effective and easy to implement," Gluck said in a statement. "Once depression is accurately diagnosed, ob-gyns can refer the patient to mental health specialists who can best manage her depression."

Psychotherapy alone may be adequate to treat depression in some women. The risk and benefits of selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors should be weighed for individual patients, but ACOG recommends against using paroxetine (Paxil) due to the potential for fetal heart defects and pulmonary hypertension.

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