Highlighting Mental Health & Substance Use in the Perinatal Period

Screenshot of perinatal health video from State of Vermont’s Children Report: 2023 Year in Review

This year, the spotlight in BBF’s The State of Vermont’s Children report focuses on perinatal health and well-being. The perinatal period, the time from pregnancy through one year after birth, is so important for the long-term development of each child and the well-being of the whole family.

Three key points from this spotlight reveal challenges and opportunities to improve health outcomes related to perinatal mood and anxiety disorders (PMADs), substance use during pregnancy, and parental mortality during the perinatal period.

Watch our video to learn more.

The spotlight shows:

  • In Vermont, 25% of pregnant and postpartum people in the 2018-2020 birth cohort were affected by PMADs, compared with 11.5% nationally. This may be partly due to higher rates of screening and public awareness in our state, but with one quarter of birthing people experiencing these mental health conditions, this is a serious issue that we need to continue to address. 
  • For Vermont children born in 2021, one or more substances were used during more than one in 10 pregnancies. This includes alcohol, cigarettes, marijuana, and/or other substances.
  • Tragically, from 2021-2023, seven Vermont parents died within the first year after giving birth. All of these deaths were directly related to substance use disorder, either by accidental overdose or infection from intravenous drug use.

For more insights about perinatal health, including a mother’s firsthand experience, watch the full perinatal health panel with Ilisa Stalberg, SAC Public Co-Chair and Director of the Family and Child Health Division at the Vermont Department of Health; Amy Wenger, Maternal Child Health Clinical Manager at the Franklin County Home Health Agency; and JennRose Brittenham, mother of four, who shared her experiences with a perinatal mood and anxiety disorder.

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