- On Tuesday, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force stated pregnant women should be screened for depression before and after giving birth.
- This is the first time the panel has recommended screening for maternal mental health issues, The New York Times reported.
- The recommendations, published in JAMA, piggybacks new evidence postpartum depression can begin during pregnancy and such mental health issues are more common than previously thought.
The published report notes the recommendations apply to adults 18 years and older. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force makes recommendations about the effectiveness of specific preventive care services for patients without related signs or symptoms.
In its final statement, the USPSTF extended their recommendations for all U.S. adults, not just pregant and postpartum women, according to Modern Healthcare.
The magnitude of harms associated with screening adults for depression and providing them with cognitive behavioral therapy is "small to none," the authors wrote.
As The New York Times reports, the guidelines, issued as part of updated depression-screening guidelines, are expected to push providers to provide such screenings.
The USPSTF stated it reviewed the "evidence on the benefits and harms of screening for depression in adult populations, including older adults and pregnant and postpartum women; the accuracy of depression screening instruments; and the benefits and harms of depression treatment in these populations."
The task force does not specify how often such screening should be made during pregnancy but noted cognitive behavioral therapy was helpful.
"The USPSTF recognizes that clinical decisions involve more considerations than evidence alone," the authors noted. "Clinicians should understand the evidence but individualize decision making to the specific patient or situation. Similarly, the USPSTF notes that policy and coverage decisions involve considerations in addition to the evidence of clinical benefits and harms."
The guidelines come after the agency released new breast cancer screening guidelines recommending mammograms every two years for women starting at age 50, adding they should be optional for women in their 40s, which put the government at odds with American Cancer Society guidelines issued last October.