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Byatt to Telegram & Gazette: postpartum depression can interfere with mother-child bond

Statewide initiatives will expand access to mental health services for new mothers

   Nancy Byatt, DO, MBA

Most women affected by postpartum depression do not receive screening, diagnosis or treatment, despite the condition’s potential to harm children as well as mothers.

“It can interfere with the bonding that should take place between mother and child, and there can also be difficulty with infant and childhood temperament,” said UMass Medical School psychiatrist and perinatal depression specialist Nancy Byatt, DO, MBA, who was interviewed by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette for a story on postpartum depression. “And children with depressed mothers have been found to also be at risk for their own depression, anxiety or disruptive disorders.”

But despite the fact that postpartum depression affects one in eight new mothers, making it a serious  public health threat to thousands of children as well as mothers in Massachusetts, women face many barriers to accessing diagnosis and treatment, according to research by Dr. Byatt.

Recognizing that postpartum depression is a serious public health threat, lawmakers established the Massachusetts Legislative Commission on Postpartum Depression in 2011 to create and fund screening and treatment initiatives statewide.

Byatt, assistant professor of psychiatry and obstetrics & gynecology, has been appointed medical director of one of the commission’s initiatives, “MCPAP for Moms.” An expansion of the Massachusetts Child Psychiatry Access Project, which already serves 95 percent of the state’s pediatricians, MCPAP for Moms will provide telephone consultation and liaison services to health care providers whose patients may be suffering from perinatal and postpartum depression.

Byatt told the Telegram and Gazette that MCPAP for Moms and related efforts will build the capacity of “front line providers” who care for pregnant and postpartum women—obstetricians, pediatricians, and primary care physicians and psychiatrists—to screen, refer and treat them for perinatal mood disorders.

Related link on UMassMedNow:
2013 Newsmakers: Health Watch Perinatal Depression
WCVB-TV spotlights new UMMS study on post-partum depression