Practice Alert

USPSTF round-up

The Task Force now recommends that physicians take steps to prevent perinatal depression and has modified its recommendation on lead screening.



In 2019, the US Preventive Services Task Force published 19 recommendation statements on 11 topics. Two of the topics are new; 9 are topics the Task Force had previously reviewed and has updated (TABLE 1). Three of these topics have been covered in Practice Alert podcasts ( and will not be discussed here: risk assessment, genetic counseling, and genetic testing for breast cancer susceptibility gene mutations (October 2019); medications to reduce the risk of breast cancer (December 2019); and preexposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infections (January 2020).

Topics addressed by the USPSTF in 2019

Of the 19 recommendation statements made in 2019 (TABLE 2), 5 were rated “A” and 5 were “B,” meaning the evidence shows that benefits outweigh harms and these interventions should be offered in primary care practice. There were 5 “D” recommendations for interventions that should not be offered because they are either ineffective or harms exceed benefits. There were 3 “I” statements on interventions having insufficient evidence on benefits or harms to warrant a recommendation. Only 1 recommendation was rated “C” (selectively offer based on individual factors); this assessment is the hardest one to interpret and implement. Keep in mind that all “A” and “B” recommendations must be covered by commercial health plans with no out-of-pocket cost to the patient (ie, no co-pay or deductible).

2019 USPSTF recommendation statements

New recommendation on preventing perinatal depression

One of 2 new topics reviewed in 2019 was the prevention of perinatal depression. (As noted, the other on preexposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV infection has already been covered in a Practice Alert podcast.) The Task Force found that the prevalence of depression is estimated at 8.9% among pregnant women and 37% at any point in the first year postpartum.1

Depression during pregnancy and the postpartum period is associated with adverse effects on the mother and infant, including higher rates of suicide and suicidal ideation and thoughts of harming the infant.1 Women with perinatal depression are also more likely to exhibit significantly lower levels of positive maternal behaviors, such as praising and playing with their child,2 and higher rates of negative maternal behaviors.2 Perinatal depression is also associated with increased rates of preterm birth and low birth weight.3

Mothers with postpartum depression have higher rates of early termination of breast feeding and lower adherence for recommended child preventive services including vaccination.1 Children of mothers with perinatal depression develop more behavior problems, have lower cognitive functioning, and have an increased risk of psychiatric disorders than do children of mothers without this condition.4,5

A number of risk factors are associated with perinatal depression, but no screening tool was found to have enough predictive value to be recommended. In deciding who should receive an offer or referral for counseling, the Task Force recommends as a practical approach providing “counseling interventions to women with 1 or more of the following: a history of depression, current depressive symptoms (that do not reach a diagnostic threshold), certain socioeconomic risk factors such as low income or adolescent or single parenthood, recent intimate partner violence, or mental health-related factors such as elevated anxiety symptoms or a history of significant negative life events.”1

There is no conclusive evidence to guide timing of counseling interventions, but most studies reviewed started them in the second trimester. These studies included cognitive behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy and involved counseling sessions that ranged from 4 to 20 sessions and lasted for 4 to 70 weeks. They involved group and individual sessions, mostly in-person visits, and were provided by a variety of health professionals.6

Continue to: The studies reviewed showed...


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