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Editorial
February 12, 2019

Attention to Prevention—Can We Stop Perinatal Depression Before It Starts?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 2Asher Center for the Study and Treatment of Depressive Disorders, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 3Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
  • 4Department of Medical Social Sciences, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, Illinois
JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;76(4):355-356. doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2018.4085

The perinatal period incurs elevated rates of psychiatric illness and associated risks for maternal and infant morbidity and mortality—a staggering public health burden. Suicide accounts for 20% of deaths in postpartum women and is the second leading cause of mortality in the first year after birth.1 The adverse impact of high maternal stress levels has been demonstrated during fetal life and results in a cascade of negative health influences that continues through the lifespan of the offspring. The rising maternal mortality rates along with the sensitivity of the fetal period to programming of long-term health and disease has intensified pursuit of interventions to promote maternal mental health. The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) B recommendation “that clinicians provide or refer pregnant and postpartum persons who are at increased risk of perinatal depression to counseling interventions”2 acknowledges the enormous opportunity to improve the well-being of mothers and of our next generation, along with the USPSTF evidence report and systematic review.3

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