According to a Rutgers research, screening moms and dads for depression at paediatric clinics after their child’s first birthday, which is now normal practise, might identify families in need of mental health and other vital supports.
“Pediatric professionals can play an important role in detecting parental depression,” said lead author Ava Marie Hunt, who conducted the research while a student at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and is now a medical intern at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia’s Department of Pediatrics. “However, current American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines only encourage screening for maternal depression in the first year of their infant’s life.”
This is especially crucial for parents who do not have a regular source of health care but nonetheless take their children to their well-child appointments.” The research, which was published in the journal Pediatrics, looked at screening for parental depression or mood disorders in paediatric health-care facilities after a child’s first birthday. One in every five households in the United States suffers from parental depression. Mothers who are depressed are more likely to have unstable bonds with their children and to engage in harsh parenting behaviours. Furthermore, maternal depression has been connected to the cognitive, behavioural, and physical health of children.
In the Rutgers study, researchers examined 41 studies including over 32,700 parents and carers of children over the age of 12 months; on average, the studies found that 25% of the parents tested positive for depressive symptoms.
Researchers discovered that structured screening programmes outside of the postpartum period in paediatric settings are uncommon, despite the fact that many parents tested positive for depression symptoms. According to the study, many parents who tested positive for depressed symptoms did not obtain adequate referrals or follow-up.
“Although doctors realise the need of screening for depression, many are uneasy about doing so,” said senior author Manuel E. Jimenez, an assistant professor of paediatrics and family medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.
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“Those who do screen for depression frequently depend on observation rather than utilising proven screening techniques, and dads are frequently overlooked,” said co-author Sallie Porter, an associate professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing.
According to the findings, enhanced screening for parental depression over a broader age range and in a broader range of clinical settings has the potential to identify families in need of assistance. According to the study, more research is needed to determine optimal practises for connecting parents who screen positive for depression symptoms to resources and establishing a follow-up process.
A study co-author was Nila Uthirasamy, a research assistant at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School.