Archives of Women's Mental Health

, Volume 16, Issue 4, pp 259–270 | Cite as

Perinatal depression: a review of US legislation and law

  • Ann M. Rhodes
  • Lisa S. SegreEmail author
Review Article


Accumulating research documenting the prevalence and negative effects of perinatal depression, together with highly publicized tragic critical incidents of suicide and filicide by mothers with postpartum psychosis, have fueled a continuum of legislation. Specialists in perinatal mental health should recognize how their work influences legislative initiatives and penal codes, and take this into consideration when developing perinatal services and research. Yet, without legal expertise, the status of legislative initiatives can be confusing. To address this shortfall, we assembled an interdisciplinary team of academics specializing in law, as well as perinatal mental health, to summarize these issues. This review presents the relevant federal and state legislation and summarizes the criminal codes that governed the court decisions on cases in which a mother committed filicide because of postpartum psychosis. Moreover, the review aims to help researchers and providers who specialize in perinatal depression understand their role in this legal landscape


Perinatal depression Legislation Laws Review 



During the period of the conduct of this research Lisa S. Segre, PhD was supported by a NIMH K-23 Award grant MH075964. The authors would like to acknowledge Jennifer McCabe and Alberto Segre for helpful comments on manuscript drafts and the editorial assistance of Linda Curran and Diana Colgan.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Nursing/College of LawThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA
  2. 2.College of NursingThe University of IowaIowa CityUSA

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