Maternal physical and mental health should be prioritized together after childbirth

Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine, Social Health Community Comments Off

Awareness and understanding of postpartum symptoms among new mothers is imperative

New Delhi, 14 January 2019: The Health Department of Kerala State is integrating mental health with maternal and child health programme to initiate a primary care screening programme for the early detection and treatment of perinatal depression. This is under the light of the latter emerging as a major cause for concern in the Kerala. About 7% of the 187 maternal deaths reported in Kerala in 2017/18 were suicides, making it the third cause of maternal mortality in the state after post-partum hemorrhage and pre-eclampsia.

Perinatal depression, which is defined as depression during pregnancy and childbirth, lasting for over a year after delivery, goes mostly undetected and untreated, till something as drastic as a suicide bid occurs. The issue has emerged as a public health priority as doctors now recognize the long-term effect that perinatal depression can have on infants as well.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “This is a highly commendable initiative by the Kerala state health department. Emerging evidence on the outcomes of maternal depression on the brain development of the infant and their cognitive development, emotional and behavioral aspects indicate the urgency with which this issue needs to be addressed. It is not a phenomenon that is restricted to the lower income strata of the society but can affect any woman. Some reasons for perinatal depression could be financial problems, discord with in-laws, and domestic violence. The anxiety of having to manage a new life, an infant, and the expectations from a new mother can also lead to this condition.”

Under the initiative being taken by the Kerala state government, training is being provided to relevant stakeholders on recognizing depressive disorders amongst young mothers and mothers-to-be. A screening will be done once each during the first three trimesters and post-partum, in the 6th and 14th week and 9th month. Psycho social counselling will be offered to all eligible couples and followed up post-partum into a year.

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Many women do not recognize or are unable to understand the symptoms that follow childbirth. Then there are others who are unwilling to seek medical help as psychiatric problems are not taken very well in the Indian society even today. There is a need to create awareness about this condition among pregnant women, new mothers, and the family and counsel them on how they can support the women through this phase.”

Some tips for would-be mothers to cope with childbirth and postpartum anxiety

  • Get enough rest. Tiredness can make anxiety worse and give you a constant gloomy feeling. Try catching small naps when the baby is asleep.
  • Eat at smaller intervals. Low energy levels can impact mental health.
  • Try not to feel guilty about not helping around the house. Understand that this is a temporary phase and it is not wrong to ask for help.
  • Indulge in activities that can help you in getting distracted from any negative thoughts, such as reading a book and listening to music. Take a short walk if it helps you feel better
  • Lastly, do not compare yourself with other mothers. Each pregnancy is different and understanding this will help you feel better.

The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill – 2019 passed by the Lok Sabha

Health Care Comments Off

“The DNA Technology (Use and Application) Regulation Bill – 2019” was passed by the lower house of the Parliament last week. The Bill has been formulated recognizing the need for regulation of the use and application of deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) technology, for establishing identity of missing persons, victims, offenders, under trials and unknown deceased persons and strengthen the justice delivery system of the country. DNA evidence is considered the gold standard in crime investigations.

The Bill seeks to ensure that the DNA test results are reliable, and that the data remain protected from misuse or abuse in terms of the privacy rights of our citizens.

The key components of this Bill include:

Establishment of a DNA Regulatory Board: Among the various functions envisaged for the DNA Regulatory Board are included: advice the Central Government and the State Governments on all issues relating to establishing of DNA laboratories and DNA Data Banks and grant accreditation to laboratories and to suspend or revoke such accreditation.
The Board will also ensure that the information relating to DNA profiles, DNA samples and any records thereof, forwarded to, or in custody of, the National DNA Data Bank or the Regional DNA Data Bank or a DNA laboratory or any other person or authority under this Act, are secured and kept confidential
No laboratory shall undertake DNA testing, analysing or any other procedure to generate data and perform analysis relating thereto without obtaining accreditation from the Board.
Establishment of the National DNA Data Bank and Regional DNA Data Banks or every State, or two or more States, as it may deem necessary to assist in forensic investigations.
All DNA labs are required to share DNA data prepared and maintained by it with the National DNA Data Bank and the Regional DNA Data Bank.
Every DNA Data Bank shall maintain the following indices for various categories of data, namely:

o a crime scene index

o a suspects index or undertrials index

o an offenders index

o a missing persons index

o unknown deceased persons index

The Bill also provides for sharing of DNA profiles with foreign Government or international organization.
There is a provision of penalty for unlawful access to information in DNA Data Bank and also for destruction, alterations, contamination or tampering with biological evidence.

(Press Information Bureau, Ministry of Science & Technology, Jan. 8, 2019)

Dr KK Aggarwal

Padma Shri Awardee

President Elect Confederation of Medical Associations in Asia and Oceania (CMAAO)

Group Editor-in-Chief IJCP Publications

President Heart Care Foundation of India

Past National President IMA