New Jersey confronts postpartum depression

A state law mandates screening and education for all new mothers showing warning signs.

Published October 13, 2006 7:36PM (EDT)

New Jersey has passed a law requiring healthcare workers -- including nurses, physicians and midwives -- to screen new mothers for postpartum depression, according to (via the Kaiser Network). The aim is to educate women about the prevalence of "baby blues" (which plagues around 80 percent of new mothers) and full-on postpartum depression (which afflicts a further 15 percent).

A whopping $4.5 million has been earmarked for the new program, which will include a support group for all new mothers and a "Speak Up When You're Down" brochure. (We're hoping the program is a little more creative than the brochure's title suggests.) The law aims to look out for the well-being of mothers as well as their newborns, and dispel the glut of misinformation on the condition. If a woman shows signs of postpartum depression -- which can lead to psychosis in extreme cases -- she'll be directed to appropriate treatment, which can include antidepressants.

We'll keep our fingers crossed that the program is a success. One promising sign: These days, Tom Cruise seems sufficiently distracted from the issue by his own baby, so we don't foresee any further career-damaging screeds against women who choose to treat depression with medication rather than vitamins.

By Tracy Clark-Flory

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