Washington - As bloggers around the country today advocate for passage of federal legislation to combat postpartum depression, U.S. Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), the Senate sponsor of the Melanie Blocker Stokes MOTHERS Act, applauded the effort as necessary to enact the bill into law. The legislation has broad support in Congress and was able to pass the House of Representatives earlier this year, but has been stalled in the Senate because of objections by Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK). Senator Coburn commonly uses senatorial "holds" to stall disease-specific legislation, and indications are that he would do so with the MOTHERS Act.
"Postpartum depression is a condition that is not only more widespread than most realize but also more debilitating than most realize," said Menendez. "We need to make sure these mothers are fully supported and informed, rather than scared and alone. Working together with a nationwide community of mothers, we are so close to enacting this important legislation into law. What we need is an intense dose of public pressure. This Blog Day helps reinforce the type of grassroots movement that will create the pressure that is needed, and I commend the participants. I invite mothers, fathers and anyone else who believes we need to better support those with postpartum depression to contact their Senators and urge them to vocally support S. 324."
The legislation would increase federal efforts to combat postpartum depression by:
• Encouraging Health and Human Services (HHS) to coordinate and continue research to expand the understanding of the causes of, and find treatments for, postpartum conditions.
• Encouraging a National Public Awareness Campaign, to be administered by HHS, to increase awareness and knowledge of postpartum depression and psychosis.
• Requiring the Secretary of HHS to conduct a study on the benefits of screening for postpartum depression and postpartum psychosis.
• Creating a grant program to public or nonprofit private entities to deliver or enhance outpatient, inpatient and home-based health and support services, including case management and comprehensive treatment services for individuals with or at risk for postpartum conditions. Activities may also include providing education about postpartum conditions to new mothers and their families, including symptoms, methods of coping with the illness, and treatment resources, in order to promote earlier diagnosis and treatment.
It is estimated that postpartum depression (PPD) affects from 10 to 20 percent of new mothers. In the United States, there may be as many as 800,000 new cases of postpartum conditions each year. The cause of PPD isn't known but changes in hormone levels, a difficult pregnancy or birth, and a family history of depression are considered possible factors.
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