Megan Veenema Smith DrPH

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry, in the Child Study Center and of Epidemiology (Chronic Diseases); Director, New Haven Mental health Outreach for MotherS (MOMS) Partnership

Research Interests

Mental health promotion and prevention in children and families; Mental illness in pregnancy and parenting; Community-based mental health research; Community-based participatory research in mental health; Gender disparities in mental illness

Current Projects

New Haven Mental health Outreach for Mothers (MOMS) Partnership

Momba Smartphone application for new mothers

Pink and Blue Kids Study (follow-up of children born to women in the Yale Stress & Pregnancy Study)

CT Health Foundation Children's Mental Health Initiative

Gene by Environment Study of post traumatic stress disorder and preterm birth


Research Summary

The basis of my clinical research work is my belief that the successful prevention of poor childhood outcomes requires an alternative understanding of women’s mental and physical health problems beginning in the preconception period. Mental and physical illness, I believe, should be conceptualized as constructs in dynamic relation to the social, historical, cultural, economic, and political context in which families reside. This framework has driven my research thus far in specific projects related to the psychiatric and social epidemiology of depression in pregnancy and prevention of mental illness in women and children.

Extensive Research Description

Advocating for the reduction of racial, ethnic and gender disparities in health has been a driving force in my research thus far. My research is focused on low-income, racial and ethnic minority women who suffer from mood, anxiety, and substance use disorders. A major portion of this work includes investigations into the occurrence and treatment of illnesses in pregnancy, the postpartum period, and during the parenting years. I am interested in not only the impact of maternal psychopathology on a woman’s own morbidity, but also the impact on her parenting style and the long term health and developmental outcomes of her children. Current projects include determining the efficacy and effectiveness of interventions to treat perinatal mood and substance use disorders in novel community settings and investigating the impact of perinatal depressive, anxiety and substance use disorders on birth outcomes and long term parent-child interaction.


Selected Publications

  • Smith, MV, Mayes LC, Sung A, Shah B, , Klein DS, Yonkers KA. Neurobehavioral Assessment of Infants Born at Term and In Utero Exposure to Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors. Early Human Development, 2012 Sep 20. pii: S0378-3782(12)
  • Yonkers KA, Gotman N, Smith MV , Forray A, Belanger K, Brunetto W, Lin H, Burkman RT, Zelop CM, Lockwood CJ. Does Antidepressant Use Attenuate The Risk Of A Major Depressive Episode In Pregnancy? Epidemiology, 2011:22; 848-854.
  • Smith MV, Lincoln A. (2010) "Integrating social epidemiology into public health research and practice: the case of maternal depression." American Journal of Public Health, In Press.
  • Smith MV, Shao L, Lin H, Howell H, Yonkers KA. (2010) “Perinatal depression and birth outcomes in a Healthy Start project.” Maternal and Child Health Journal, In press
  • Smith MV, Gotman N, Lin H, Yonkers KA. (2010) Do the PHQ-8 and the PHQ-2 Accurately Screen for Depressive Disorders in a Sample of Pregnant Women? General Hospital Psychiatry, In Press
  • Yonkers KA, Smith MV, Gotman N, Belanger K. (2009) Typical Somatic Symptoms of Pregnancy and Their Impact on a Diagnosis of Major or Minor Depressive Disorder. General Hospital Psychiatry, 31(4): 327-333. PMID: 19555792
  • Smith MV, Shao L, Howell H, Wang H, Poschman K, Yonkers KA. (2009). Success of mental health referral among pregnant and postpartum women with psychiatric distress. General Hospital Psychiatry, 31(2): 155-162. PMID: 19269536.
  • Feinberg E, Smith MV, Naik, R. (2009) Ethnically Diverse Mothers’ Views on the Acceptability of Screening for Depressive Symptoms during Pediatric Well-Child Visits. Journal of Healthcare for the Poor and Underserved, 20(3): 780-797. PMID: 19648705
  • Smith MV, Poschman, K, Cavaleri MA, Howell HB, Yonkers KA. (2006) Symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder in a community sample of low-income pregnant women. American Journal of Psychiatry, 163(5): 881-884. PMID: 16648330.
  • Smith MV, Rosenheck RA, Cavaleri MA, Howell HB, Poschman K, Yonkers KA. (2004). Screening for and detection of depression, panic disorder & PTSD in public-sector obstetric clinics. Psychiatric Services, 55(4): 407-414. PMID: 15067153 .

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