by caryn (10149 Posts), Fri Jun 03, 2005 01:07 am
Yep, that member in Arizona was me -- I was on the Brewer diet from before conception, and delivered at 34 weeks with a bp of 220/116 *while on IV labetelol* and what my doc said was the highest protein count he'd ever seen. I believe the founder of the PF, Anne, also tried the diet during her third pregnancy, the one in which she developed HELLP and almost died.
So anecdotally, I'd say it doesn't work. A lot of people who endorse it seem to say, hey, I was on the Brewer diet and I didn't get PE, therefore it works. But most pregnant women do not develop this complication. A lot of other endorsers seem to say, hey, I got PE the first time, so I followed this diet the second time, and didn't get it. But most women do not get PE in subsequent pregnancies. Some women say, well, I had swelling, so I ate like this and it went away. But swelling is not PE. No studies have ever been conducted on *that* diet per se, but a number of other studies have investigated and have found minimal at best benefit from supplementing nutrition in various ways, including vitamin supplementation and protein/calorie supplementation.
Our understanding of the physiologic process of preeclampsia has advanced dramatically since early 2003, when a new study described a protein (not a dietary protein, but essentially a hormone, a cytokine, produced by the placenta among other parts of the body) which could be responsible for the majority of symptoms in PE, in that it can both damage blood vessels and block the growth of the placenta. Subsequent studies found dramatically elevated levels of that protein during the first trimester in women who went on to develop PE later in their pregnancies. Several other studies published at around that time seem to implicate early immune system involvement as well, namely that the maternal immune system recognizes the placenta as a foreign entity and tries to reject it, compromising its implantation into the uterus. If you want to find those studies, you can search the PF or PubMed for "sflt-1". Susan Fisher at UCSF is one author who has published rather a lot about the evidence for early immune system involvement, so you might be able to find that by searching on her name and words like "embryonic". Or you could email me; I've got them bookmarked.
This new research significantly contradicts Dr. Brewer's proposed mechanisms for development of the disease.
But I cannot say for certain that the Brewer diet doesn't help some people. I can only say that there are competing theories with much stronger empirical support. :-)
I *so* hear you on the wanting another baby and being terrified thing. :-) I'm there with you. It would be really nice if there were a magic bullet like the diet, but, well...
DS Oscar born 10/20/02 at 34 weeks, rapid-onset severe PE