Florida Moms are being left in the dark.
The Florida Department of Health keeps data in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control regarding pregnant and postpartum women through a random population based questionnaire called the PRAMS (Pregnancy Risk Assessment Monitoring System).
The most recent surveillance data (drawn from live birth registration records) available from 2013 leaves much to be desired in the way of MENTAL HEALTH being central to the overall HEALTH of Moms in Florida.
The questionnaire and report are broken down into three main parts: the three months before pregnancy, during pregnancy and postpartum.
Here is the Mission as stated on the website:
PRAMS is designed to: 1) establish and maintain state-specific, population-based surveillance of selected maternal behaviors that occur during pregnancy and early infancy, and 2) generate state-specific data for planning and evaluating prenatal health programs. PRAMS data is used to supplement state data from vital records and to develop and assess programs and policies for women and children to help reduce infant morbidity and mortality by changing maternal behaviors during pregnancy and during the child's early infancy.
So here's where we can begin to see more is to be desired from a system that communicates data about our state's pregnant women to our federal government and generates funding and policies for "women and children to help reduce infant morbidity and mortality."
75% of Moms expressed having experienced "at least one stressor in the 12 months BEFORE giving birth."
THIS QUESTION IS NOT ASKED for the time AFTER giving birth.
You read that right. No question to gather data on whether any stressors were experienced AFTER delivery.
AFTER delivery is when you're trying to get your feet under you with raising a new HUMAN (and any special needs your little one may have); feed them however you feed them, pay bills and address finances, maintain relationships, make decisions about sleep, recover from pregnancy and delivery and the list of stressors goes on...
PRAMS also does NOT record information or survey those who have experienced pregnancy/infant LOSS.
25% or 1 in 4 pregnancies end in loss.
- No questions about stressors after loss or live delivery.
- A total of two questions ask about anxiety AT ALL and NEITHER ask about anxiety AFTER baby arrives.
- Two questions were asked in the postpartum time frame about depression. (This is positive.)
YOU KNOW WHAT info is gathered?
DENTAL HEALTH- Apparently the vast majority of Moms were made aware that dental health during pregnancy is important.
While we will reinforce the fact that oral health is important and pregnancy is a time where hormones heighten possibility of gum disease, here's our proposal:
- Include a question much like the oral health question, "During your most recent pregnancy, did you know it was important to care for your emotional health during pregnancy?"
- Include a question about screening for emotional health: "Were you given the opportunity by your provider to answer any questionnaires about your emotional and mental health during or after pregnancy?"
- How about referral? "Were you given referral information if you shared with your provider you had existing mental illness or experienced emotional distress DURING or AFTER pregnancy?"
- Consider a measure to include the health of women who experience perinatal (any stage of pregnancy and infant) LOSS.
CAN YOU HEAR US Florida decision-makers?
AT LEAST 1 in 7 women will experience the #1 health complication related to pregnancy and birth- PERINATAL MOOD AND ANXIETY DISORDERS.
We KNOW that mental illness of parents can have HUGE, negative impacts on how those parents care for their children and how those children cope during childhood and later on in adulthood.
MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH has immediate and generational impacts. WOMEN (and sometimes babies/children) are DYING.
We KNOW Florida can do a better job of caring for its' Moms!