Making the Legal and Ethical Case for Universal Screening for Postpartum Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Pediatric Primary Care

Amy Lewis Gilbert, Casey Balio, Nerissa Bauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Postpartum depression (PPD), part of a larger spectrum of perinatal mood and anxiety disorders, affects up to 15% of women following the birth of an infant. Fathers may also be affected. PPD not only affects caregivers, but also impacts infants through mechanisms such as inadequate caregiver-infant interactions and non-adherence to safety practices. The negative impact on infants may extend across the life course through adulthood. This article seeks to move the needle toward universal screening for PPD using validated tools in pediatric primary care settings for new caregivers by making the legal and ethical case for this course of action in a manner that is both compelling and accessible for clinicians. Toward this end, we summarize current literature as it applies to provider responsibilities, liabilities and perspectives; and caregiver autonomy, confidentiality, and privacy. We then assess utility by balancing the benefits and burdens of this approach to practices, providers, and caregivers; and take the analysis one step further by looking across multiple populations to assess distributive justice. We conclude that there is a strong ethical case for universal screening for PPD in pediatric primary care settings using validated tools when informed consent can be obtained and appropriate follow-up services are available and accessible. Clinical considerations, practical resources, and areas ripe for future research are also addressed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCurrent Problems in Pediatric and Adolescent Health Care
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health

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