by blythe (3059 Posts), Sun Nov 18, 2007 10:35 pm
Thank you for your good intentions, I do believe you are trying to be helpful. Also, this topic does show up in searches, so selfishly, I appreciate the chance to add more research-based information for people looking up the diet.
I also appreciate your willingness to answer any questions regarding the diet. However, even though I have had no contact with the Brewers, I have read everything I can get my hands on about this issue. So have many, many other women here. You mentioned your own pregnancy-related struggles/issues, and I am sorry to hear that you, too, did not find birth an easy experience. However, unless you have had this disease, one that has killed babies and mothers, I don't know if you can understand the passion / obsession many of us have experienced in trying to keep ourselves and our babies safe from this disease.
We know this diet. We know every research article related to it. We know every research article about every other attempt at treatment and prevention. We know the old wives' tales. We know about Ina May Gaskin and The Farm's exceptionally low PE rate. We hear about Brewer's successes so many decades ago but search in vain for the actual data. We know our friends in Bradley childbirth classes who use the diet seem to have low rates of PE, but still never see hard numbers.
Because of the anecdotal "evidence" (individual stories) many of us (me included) still fell in the "may not help but can't hurt" camp. Then this study came out this summer (sorry, no pubmed abstract yet):
"That original study population was a group of mothers attending a maternity hospital in Motherwell, Scotland, between 1952 and 1976. These mothers had been advised to eat a high-meat, low-carbohydrate diet in an experimental attempt to prevent preeclampsia (hypertension during pregnancy). The advice was to eat 1 pound of red meat daily during pregnancy and to abstain from carbohydrate-rich foods such as bread and potatoes. Subsequent studies showed that the adult offspring of mothers with the highest recorded meat intakes went on to experience high cortisol and develop hypertension."
And, I know that the Motherwell diet is not exactly the same as Brewer. However, this study drove home the point for me that experimenting with my body could hurt my children, even if it takes decades to see the damage.
I love Caryn's literature review, Thank You, Caryn! I wanted to add just a few more thoughts:
60-85% of women *will not get PE again*. No matter what we do. So anyone can say "I did x and x prevented PE". But unless a lot of women, randomly selected, try the same prevention and *more than 60-85%* stay healthy (one of our research professors will be along to correct my poor explanation of statistics, but I think I'm close), then that "prevention" is just luck. It's just that PE is so scary that the natural human response is to latch on to something that promises to keep horrible things from happening to us. The Brewer diet is not the only thing people have latched onto. People have also tried low protein diets, salt restriction, massive *extra* salt, fish oil, eggs, calcium, vegan diets, no trans-fat diets, extra vitamin C, E, water immersion, progesterone, the list is fairly extensive... My personal theory is that it's a credit to Brewer's skills at self-promotion and partnership with the Bradley childbirth classes that has given the Brewer diet hypothesis extra longevity and staying power, despite the evidence against it.
Finally, even though you say Dr. Brewer did not blame women, in at least one letter to our founder, Anne Garrett, he did. And even if *he* normally didn't, many other people use this diet as a way to blame women for getting sick. Since there is no research-based evidence to support Brewer's protein diet, I personally would like it eradicated from serious discussion about the disease.