Perinatal mood disorders (PMDs), a devastating complication of pregnancy, affect up to 25 percent of women nationally, with socioeconomically disadvantaged women at highest risk. PMDs are associated with adverse maternal outcomes that may include emotional disturbance, disability, impaired childcare practices, and, in some cases, suicide and infanticide. Alarmingly, many women do not receive treatment due to underidentification, limited or no access to care providers, stigma, and time and/or financial constraints. Women in New Mexico are at high risk for PMDs, as the state consistently ranks as one of the most socially disadvantaged for its dearth of health services and opportunities to access health care. Among New Mexican women, 21 percent live in poverty and 33 percent live in rural areas; furthermore, 30 percent of women of childbearing age are Hispanic, a group estimated to have a three to four times higher risk of perinatal depression. PMDs also affect infants, having been associated with pre-term birth and low birthweight as well as adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes.
The goal of this project is to build community, healthcare, and research capacities to address this critical gap in perinatal care. We will bring together women who have experienced PMDs and assemble healthcare providers, researchers, and other stakeholders to develop a partnership team, strategic plan, communication plan, research training, and comparative effectiveness research questions focused on improving health care and quality of life for women with PMDs and their children. This collaborative effort will offer a first step in identifying and overcoming barriers to care, ultimately leading to healthy families and communities.