We are happy to announce that Senator Bartolotta and Representative Toohil re-introduced Pennsylvania Senate Bill 200 and House Bill 200 amendments to the Early Intervention Services System Act of 1990 early Tuesday morning. This is a huge step for our friends and clients at the #StrongMomStrongBaby coalition and the Campaign for What Works in their efforts to provide early intervention services to mothers with high risk of postpartum depression.

Below is the press release issued Tuesday, January 31st:

Pittsburgh, Pa. (January 31, 2017) – Pennsylvania Senate Bill 200 and House Bill 200, amendments to the Early Intervention Services System Act of 1990 which supports mothers and their babies facing postpartum depression, were re-introduced to the senate and house Tuesday morning. The #StrongMomStrongBaby coalition and the Campaign for What Works both strongly support the legislation.

SB 200 and HB 200 add postpartum depression as a qualifying condition to place children in the at-risk category for early intervention assessment, tracking, and if needed, early intervention services. Senator Camera Bartolotta, R, 46 District, and Representative Tarah Toohil, R, 116 District were the primary sponsors for SB 200 and HB 200 respectively, with secondary sponsors Senator Judith L. Schwank, D, 11 District, and Representative Michael Schlossberg, D, 132 District.

“Postpartum depression is a severe and potentially long-lasting condition that can put the health of the mother and the baby at risk,” said Senator Bartolotta. “By adding postpartum depression as a qualifying condition, I hope to ensure that infants and their mothers who suffer from this condition have access to the services that are already in place in our communities and have the ability to undergo assessments, tracking and, if needed, early intervention services.”

Approximately 15 percent of new mothers suffer from postpartum depression, according to research from the American Psychological Association. This means that in Pennsylvania, 21,000 babies and their mothers are affected by this illness every year. A baby’s cognitive development can be adversely impacted when a mother suffers from postpartum depression, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. 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.

“A baby’s cognitive development can be adversely impacted when a mother suffers from postpartum depression,” said Denise Salerno, MD, FAAAP, president, PA Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics. “This critical legislative change would help lessen the long-term negative effects of maternal depression on infants and children by monitoring the infant’s development and providing pathways to supports needed by mothers and their babies.”

The bill improves access to early intervention services for children with a parent who has screened at high risk for postpartum depression. The baby and mother will be referred to their county’s early intervention programs by a physician, healthcare provider or parent. Examples of other at-risk categories currently screened for by law include low-birth-weight children; children cared for in neonatal intensive care units; children who are homeless; children born to chemically dependent mothers; and children with confirmed dangerous levels of lead poisoning.

“This bill will help ensure healthier outcomes for babies and mothers across Pennsylvania by increasing access to our proven, effective Early Intervention system,” said Representative Toohil. “It’s a common-sense, 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.”

SB 200 and HB 200 will now be referred internally to the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee and the House’s Human Services Committee for their review.

About #StrongMomStrongBaby — #StrongMomStrongBaby is a statewide effort to amend the existing early intervention law (Act 212 of 1990) to add postpartum depression as an at-risk condition allowing infants to undergo assessments, parents to receive assistance in bonding with their babies, and if needed, early intervention services to ensure moms and babies have the best start together.

About The Campaign for What Works — The Campaign for What Works is a statewide civic effort initiated by The Pittsburgh Foundation, United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania, the Greater Pittsburgh Nonprofit Partnership and The Forbes Funds to ensure the future of our vital human service programs and, above all, the well-being of the people they serve.