Bartolotta and Schwank Bill Would Improve Screening, Treatment of Postpartum Depression

HARRISBURG – February 28, 2019 – Bipartisan legislation would improve screening and treatment of new mothers affected by postpartum depression, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Camera Bartolotta (R-46) and Judy Schwank (D-11).

The Prenatal and Postpartum Counseling and Screening Act would require health care providers to offer information to pregnant women regarding parenting and prenatal depression, postpartum depression, postpartum psychosis and other emotional trauma counseling. New mothers would also be required to undergo screening for postpartum depression symptoms prior to hospital discharge and at postnatal check-up visits.

“Postpartum depression can create a whole host of health risks for both mothers and babies, so identifying and treating this condition is crucial,” Bartolotta said. “We need to make sure mothers are aware of the signs of postpartum depression, as well as all of the resources that are available to help families who are affected by it.”

Many mothers experience a mild, short-term form of postpartum depression commonly referred to as the “baby blues.” However, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, 10 to 20 percent of mothers experience more intense symptoms that can last a year or more and may require counseling and/or medication.

“This legislation is an important step in ensuring every baby has a healthy start,” Schwank said. “Thousands of mothers a year in Pennsylvania are affected by Post-partum depression and it’s vital they have access to the services they need to avoid serious and costlier problems later. For the benefit of new mothers, babies and families throughout the Commonwealth, I am hopeful that this legislation can be enacted quickly.”

At least six other states have enacted similar laws to improve diagnosis and treatment of postpartum depression.


CONTACT:   Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463

Bill Would Provide Early Intervention for Mothers Suffering from Postpartum Depression

HARRISBURG, May 17, 2016 – Newborn and infant children of mothers affected by postpartum depression (PPD) would be eligible for early intervention services under legislation introduced today by Sens. Judy Schwank (D-Berks) and Camera Bartolotta (R-Washington).

Senate Bill 1269 would add PPD to the list of conditions that qualify for assessments, tracking and early intervention services. The state already monitors infants with certain medical conditions, such as low birth weight or lead poisoning, as well as those born into potentially dangerous environments, including children born to chemically dependent mothers, homeless children and infants who suffer from abuse and neglect

“Postpartum depression is a severe and potentially long-lasting condition that can put the health of the mother and the baby at risk,” Bartolotta said. “By adding postpartum depression to the list of qualifying conditions, we hope to ensure infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition have access to the services that are already in place in our communities to support healthy child development.”

“All babies deserve a healthy start in life,” said Schwank, Senate Democratic chair of the Women’s Health Caucus. “Making sure that babies of mothers with PPD are able to get available services they may need is important, and it just makes sense for both the mother and child.”

The American Psychological Association estimates that more than one in seven new mothers experience PPD. The condition can adversely affect a baby’s cognitive development, and carries an increased risk of abuse and neglect.

Postpartum depression is typically defined as a major depressive episode for the mother arising either during her pregnancy or within a year of the baby’s birth. About 21,000 babies and mothers in Pennsylvania annually are believed to suffer from it, and the American Academy of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends that all mothers be screened for this illness.


CONTACT: Colleen Greer (717) 787-1463 (Sen. Bartolotta)

William Casey (717) 787-8925 (Sen. Schwank)