This week, I reintroduced a bill in the House of Representatives that would assist mothers in Pennsylvania who are struggling with postpartum depression and their infants by making them eligible for Early Intervention services. During the 2015-16 session, I was the prime sponsor of a similar measure that stalled in committee.
According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 15 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, or the “baby blues.” A child’s cognitive development can be adversely impacted when a mother suffers from the disorder. There is also an increased danger for child abuse and neglect, which increases the cost of providing medical care to both the baby and mother.
Our goal is to provide healthier outcomes for babies and mothers across Pennsylvania by increasing access to our proven, effective Early Intervention system. It’s a commonsense, cost-effective solution that will lower the risk of delayed development for infants with a parent suffering from depression. It also raises awareness of a hidden challenge faced by more than 21,000 mothers across Pennsylvania and helps them – and their children – get the help they need.
Under House Bill 200, mothers at high risk for postpartum depression and their infant who are referred by a physician, health care provider or parent would be automatically eligible for assessment and tracking by Pennsylvania’s Early Intervention programs. These programs exist in every county in the Commonwealth.
The bill, which currently has more than 30 co-sponsors from both sides of the aisle, has been referred to the House Human Services Committee for consideration. A companion bill has been reintroduced in the Senate.
I sometimes use this column to answer your questions regarding any state government-related matter. Please email them to me at firstname.lastname@example.org. As always, I look forward to hearing from you.
Representative Tarah Toohil
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
Contact: Rep. Toohil’s Office