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Screening for Postpartum Depression Can Be Beneficial

However, panel does not find enough evidence to recommend universal screening

FRIDAY, Jan. 22 (HealthDay News) -- Many women experience depression during and after pregnancy and could benefit from screening and treatment, although there is not enough evidence to support a recommendation for universal screening, according to a committee opinion published in the February issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Obstetric Practice notes that depression is very common in women of reproductive age and during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Depression is the leading cause of disability in women, and infants of depressed mothers have delayed mental and physical development.

The committee points out that multiple depression screening tools are available that can usually be completed in less than 10 minutes. Most have a specificity of 77 to 100 percent. The report also notes the importance of correctly coding services linked to mental health diagnoses; otherwise, the claim may be denied.

"At this time there is insufficient evidence to support a firm recommendation for universal antepartum or postpartum screening. There are also insufficient data to recommend how often screening should be done," the committee writes. "However, screening for depression has the potential to benefit a woman and her family and should be strongly considered."

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