• Northwestern University’s Dr. Melissa Simon helped write USPSTF report, is available for interviews
  • Northwestern’s Mothers and Babies Program featured in report as an effective intervention
  • Head of Mothers and Babies Program Darius Tandon available for interviews

Newswise — CHICAGO --- Clinicians are encouraged to provide counseling interventions to pregnant and postpartum women at increased risk of depression, according to a United States Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) statement published today, Feb. 12. If clinicians are unable to provide counseling, they’re encouraged to refer patients to these services. 

The task force typically makes recommendations on screenings, counseling and preventive medications for primary care clinicians and their patients on topics such as cancer, diabetes and depression. Today’s statement, however, is rare in that it called for actual interventions to prevent perinatal depression, which occurs during pregnancy and up to one year after childbirth. 

USPSTF member Dr. Melissa Simonvice chair for clinical research in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, is available to speak to media about the task force’s statement. She is with patients today but can be reached by e-mail at [email protected] to schedule a phone interview. 

Quotes from Dr. Melissa Simon:

“About nine percent of pregnant people experience perinatal depression, and up to 37 percent of people experience it at any point after birth. It’s a big issue, which is why our task force is calling for clinicians to screen all people who are pregnant or who have had a baby in the past year for signs and symptoms of depression so that conditions such as perinatal depression or the risk of perinatal depression can be screened, addressed and treated early.

“It’s well established that perinatal depression can result in short- and long-term effects for mothers and children. For this report, we reviewed the benefits and harms in pregnant and postpartum people and their children and found evidence that counseling-based interventions are effective in preventing perinatal depression.”

Today’s USPSTF report explicitly features research from the lab of Darius Tandon, associate professor and co-director of Northwestern’s Center for Community Health, and points to Tandon’s Mothers and Babies Program, calling it an effective intervention for preventing postpartum depression. 

Tandon and two fellow Northwestern colleagues wrote an editorial accompanying today’s USPSTF report, which supported the recommended interventions and focused on the attention to preventing perinatal depression. 

“(The intervention recommendations acknowledge) the enormous opportunity to improve the well-being of mothers and of our next generation,” the editorial said. “The collective frequency of this set of risk factors in women of reproductive age compels consideration of whether all pregnant women should have the opportunity to engage in counseling as standard of practice in maternity care,” the editorial said. 

Tandon is available to speak to media about his Mothers and Babies Program, his accompanying editorial and perinatal depression. Reporters can contact him at (mobile) 410-852-0399 or [email protected].