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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2021 - 2022 Regular Session


Posted: December 2, 2020 04:08 PM
From: Senator Camera Bartolotta and Sen. Judith L. Schwank
To: All Senate members
Subject: Expanding Early Intervention Services for Infants & Mothers
In the near future, we will reintroduce legislation to include postpartum depression as an “at risk category” for early intervention tracking under Act 212 of 1990 (Early Intervention Services System Act). Currently, Act 212 provides tracking and services for infants with qualifying health conditions or those who are born into certain circumstances. This proposal was Senate Bill 648 from the previous legislative session.

Research from the American Psychological Association has shown that approximately 15 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression. In Pennsylvania this means more than 20,000 babies and their mothers are annually affected by this mood disorder. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, a baby’s cognitive development can be adversely affected when a mother suffers from postpartum depression. Likewise there is an increased danger for child abuse and neglect which increases the cost of providing medical care to both the baby and mother. To that end, the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists encourages all mothers to be screened for this disorder.

In an effort to address this problem, our legislation adds postpartum depression as a qualifying condition to allow infants for assessments, tracking, and if needed, early intervention services. Examples of other at risk categories currently in law include children whose birth weight is under 1,500 grams; children cared for in neonatal intensive care units of hospitals; children who are homeless; children born to chemically dependent mothers who are referred by a physician, health care provider or parent; children who are seriously abused or neglected; and children with confirmed dangerous levels of lead poisoning.

Please join us to cosponsor this legislation to ensure infants and their mothers impacted by postpartum depression have access to the services that are in place in their community which provide support for the healthy development of babies.

Introduced as SB200