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House of Representatives
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 18, 2020 01:31 PM
From: Representative Tarah Toohil
To: All House members
Subject: #Strong Mom/Strong Baby – Postpartum Depression: Early Intervention Services for infants and their mothers
The American Academy of Pediatrics reports that postpartum depression (PPD) can lead to increased costs of medical care, child abuse and neglect, and can adversely affect a child’s early brain development.  The Academy recommends pediatricians refer the mother and her infant to community services that serve them together.  Because of the negative impact of postpartum depression and risks to infants, I plan to re-introduce legislation to include postpartum depression as an At Risk Category for Early Intervention Tracking under Pennsylvania Law (Act 212).

Many new moms experience the “postpartum baby blues”, but some new moms experience a more severe, long-lasting form of depression known as postpartum depression.  It may be mistaken for baby blues at first, but the signs and symptoms are more intense and last longer, eventually interfering with her ability to care for her baby and herself.  Symptoms usually develop within the first few weeks after giving birth, however may begin later – up to six months after birth. (Mayo Clinic)

This bill would help to ensure that infants and their mothers affected by postpartum depression have access to services that are currently in place in their community that provide support and referrals necessary for the healthy development of infants.  Mothers at high risk for postpartum depression and their infant who are referred by a physician, healthcare provider, or parent would be automatically eligible for assessment and tracking by Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention Programs.  These programs exist in every county.

The seriousness and frequency of postpartum depression cannot be overstated.  Ten to twenty percent of mothers giving birth experience postpartum depression.

Harvard’s Center on the Developing Child and many others report that “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.”

Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention system for infants and toddlers currently serves many families where a child’s mother experiences behavioral health challenges.  Given what we know about the importance of the earliest years in childhood development and a depressed mother’s need for support, providing this support through the Early Intervention program will impact children and their families for a lifetime.

Please consider becoming a co-sponsor of this legislation.
Former HB 1270 Toohil (2019-2020)
Former HB 200 Toohil (2017-2018)
Former HB 2086 Toohil (2015-2016)

Introduced as HB200