Opportunities to Postively Influence Infant Mental Health Abound in Pediatric Primary Care : Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

Infant Mental Health for the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner

IMH4PNP Blog

Opportunities to Postively Influence Infant Mental Health Abound in Pediatric Primary Care

by Sallie Porter on 01/27/13

Infant Mental Health Opportunities Abound in Pediatric Primary Care

At least one-quarter of pediatric outpatient visits are for routine infant and child health checks.

Number of visits for routine infant or child health check for children under 15 years old by gender: United States, 2008.

Routine infant or child health check

Number of visits in millions

Percentage of total visits

Male

23.1

25.78

Female

21.9

27.41

Data source:  Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Health Statistics, National Ambulatory Medical Care Survey and National Hospital Ambulatory Care Survey.

What does that tell us as PNPs? That (literally millions of) opportunities do abound to include infant mental health assessment and guidance as part of well child/health supervision visits.

PNPs can:

Encourage daily reading and bedtime books to parents of newborns.

Encourage lots of parent-infant interaction and less media time.

Point out to parents their infant's good qualities.

Bolster parent confidence with an observation about what they are doing right.

Institute universal screening of postpartum women for perinatal mood disorders.

Provide developmental surveillance at each health encounter and formal developmental screening at 9 months of age or at any time concerns warrant it.

Use a formal autism screening tool at 18 and 24 months or sooner if concerns exist.

Refer babies sooner rather than later for early intervention services.

Always ask yourself: are vision or hearing issues to blame for any problems?

Update your practice web site to provide links to Zero to Three http://www.zerotothree.org/  (There is a link to a free preview of their journal here: http://www.nxtbook.com/nxtbooks/zerotothree/201211/) and other infant mental health resources.

Thanks for reading!

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