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Am J Clin Nutr. 2009 Mar;89(3):963S-966S. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.2008.26692G. Epub 2009 Jan 28.

Maternal mental health: program and policy implications.

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Department of Psychology, Cal Poly State University, San Luis Obispo, CA 93407, USA.


Despite increasing evidence of the seriousness of maternal depression, the number of individuals affected, and the impact of maternal depression on infant growth and development, maternal mental health has not become a component of the primary health care system in many parts of the world. The impact appears to be greatest in South Asia, possibly among low-income families. Some interventions, such as increases in social support or the education of mothers about responsive caregiving, appear to be effective in reducing maternal distress. However, we do not yet have recognized, effective, and scalable strategies to treat maternal depression or reduce the more common maternal distress. Efforts are needed to increase the availability of programs for maternal mental health and to develop simple interventions to reduce maternal distress that can be used by primary health care providers. Second, efforts are needed to develop policies that include maternal mental health. These efforts should build on research and on international conventions and statements, such as the recent United Nations Fund for Population Activities/World Health Organization recommendation for a comprehensive approach to preventing and treating maternal depression.

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