HARRISBURG – The Senate Health and Human Services Committee unanimously passed legislation sponsored by Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Judy Schwank (D-11) that would add postpartum depression as an at-risk category for Early Intervention. With the passage of Senate Bill 200, a child would be eligible for Early Intervention screening and tracking services if his or her mother is experiencing, or screens at risk for, postpartum depression. The bill makes it easier for providers to connect both infant and parent to critical intervention programs.
Current law provides screening and tracking services for infants with qualifying health conditions or those who are born into certain circumstances, such as children whose birth weight is under 3.3 pounds, children cared for in a neonatal intensive care unit of hospitals, children who are homeless, children born to chemically-dependent mothers who are referred by a physician, children who are seriously abused or neglected and children with confirmed dangerous levels of lead poisoning.
By adding postpartum depression to the list of qualifying conditions, infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition will have access to the services that are already in place in communities to support healthy child development.
“New mothers and their babies deserve the best chance at a healthy start, and strong mental health plays an integral role. Senate Bill 200 is a commonsense solution to helping women who need the support of those around them at home and in their communities. They need to know that programs free from any shame are available to help them if they are struggling. When they are in the depths of despair, we need to lift them up,” Senator Bartolotta said.
“Postpartum depression is all too common and can be absolutely debilitating. Moving Senate Bill 200 out of committee is the first step towards making sure every mother and newborn baby has the support they need to get a healthy, successful start. I’m thankful to Senator Bartolotta for fighting for this bill and I’m confident our colleagues in the House and Senate will see the value it adds to the health and wellbeing of the commonwealth,” said Senator Schwank.
According to Frontiers in Global Women’s Health, new mothers reporting symptoms of depression rose from 15% to nearly 41% in April and May 2020. Also after the onset of the pandemic, 72% of moms surveyed experienced moderate to severe anxiety, compared to 43% pre-COVID-19.
The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.
CONTACT: Colleen Greer, 717-787-1463