By Sophia Duong
Maternal depression imposes serious risks to a child’s development, as Dr. Olivia Golden from the Urban Institute noted in a previous blog post. Dr. Golden not only covers the effects on children’s cognitive, psychosocial, and behavioral development, she also cites that maternal depression is highly prevalent among low-income mothers. Without treatment, mothers and children may suffer long-term consequences. Fortunately, some states are taking creative approaches to get more mothers screened for depression, which is the first step to accessing treatment.
At least five states – Colorado, Illinois, Minnesota, North Dakota, and Virginia –reimburse pediatric primary care providers for maternal depression screenings under the child’s Medicaid ID number, if the screening is done at an infant’s well-child visit or other pediatric visit. Maternal depression screenings are considered a “risk assessment” for the child, and screenings must be done with approved standardized screening tools. See more details in the table below.
|Illinois (also see Reducing Maternal Depression and Its Impact on Young Children, pg. 15)||
*Two of these states, IL and MN, received support to implement these practices through the Assuring Better Child Health and Development Project.
More experts are recognizing the importance of involving pediatricians in maternal depression screening. In fact this report from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that primary care pediatricians integrate maternal depression screening within their care for infants, and states that the majority of pediatricians agree that maternal depression screenings are within their scope of practice. Other states and child health advocates may want to take notice of the innovative approaches CO, IL, MN, ND, and VA have already implemented.