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House of Representatives
Session of 2015 - 2016 Regular Session


Posted: September 14, 2015 01:36 PM
From: Representative Michael H. Schlossberg
To: All House members
Subject: Maternal Depression and Early Intervention for children
In the near future, I plan to introduce legislation to include maternal depression as an At Risk Category for Early Intervention Tracking under Pennsylvania Law (Act 212). Maternal depression is defined as prenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and other emotional trauma related to pregnancy or parenting. Maternal depression can pose a significant risk to the physical and emotional health of children and often have significant impact on long-term early childhood development.

My legislation would help to ensure no child in Pennsylvania effected by maternal depression goes without the tools, treatment and interventions necessary for health early childhood development. Under my proposal, children born to mothers who are high risk for maternal depression and referred by a physician, health care provider or parent would be eligible for early intervention services.

The seriousness and frequency of postpartum depression cannot be overstated. Up to 80% of new mothers experience a mild, short-term form of postpartum depression. About 10-20% of new mothers experience severe postpartum depression where the symptoms last up to one year and are more intense. In the rarest cases (1 or 2 out of 1,000 women), postpartum psychosis may occur, often with tragic results.

According to the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, “when children grow up in an environment of mental illness, the development of their brains may be seriously weakened, with implications for their ability to learn as well as for their own later physical and mental health. When interventions are not available to ensure mothers’ well-being and children’s healthy development, the missed opportunities can be substantial.”

The health and well-being of babies is of utmost importance in Pennsylvania. Given what we know about the importance of the earliest years in childhood development, providing this Early Intervention services and support will prove beneficial to children.

Please join me in co-sponsoring this legislation. If you have any questions, please contact my Legislative Assistant Geoff Brace (gbrace@pahouse.net).