Please see updates to this letter on the following blog posts:
To The Editor:
In May 2007 Mothering magazine published an article titled “Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis.” It featured the story of a woman who nursed while taking antipsychotic drugs but eventually found recovery through alternative means. The article also featured an excerpt from Kathleen Kendall-Tackett stating that Zyprexa was a good antipsychotic to use for breastfeeding moms who go psychotic.
This month (Sept/Oct 2010 edition of Mothering) the same article promoting Zyprexa to breastfeeding mothers is referenced at the end of the Kathleen Kendall-Tackett article on breastfeeding helping moms to “Beat the Baby Blues.” Adding insult to injury, you chose to publish a graphic encouraging the use of Wellbutrin, Paxil, and Zoloft for breastfeeding as though they are “compatible.” Based on what definition of compatible?
That breastfeeding helps alleviate depression, and co-sleeping helps prevent depression, is a wonderful topic for an article. We are very deeply concerned, however, about the misinformation regarding breastfeeding on psychotropic drugs! With all due respect to the admirable premise of the article, helping to encourage breastfeeding, it is a tragic mistake to encourage the notion that mothers can safely breastfeed while taking the antipsychotic drug Zyprexa—a drug that is well-documented to cause excessive sedation, diabetes, permanent neurological damage and high rates of death. Zyprexa is an extremely toxic and dangerous drug, and decidedly unsafe for babies.
After examining the literature critically we are sure that in 2007, the existing data, including one study cited by Thomas Hale as evidence of supposed safety which examined blood samples from only six babies, did not warrant a statement by anyone that Zyprexa is fine for nursing. As just one example of why it is still the case that Zyprexa cannot be considered safe for babies, consider a 2008 article by S. Gentile (J Clin Psychiatry, 2008; 69(4): 666-73.), “Infant safety with antipsychotic therapy in breast-feeding: a systematic review,” which specifically warns against using Zyprexa in breastfeeding mothers, stating, “The drug seems to be associated with an increased risk of inducing extrapyramidal reactions in the breast-fed babies.”
A vital omission for a magazine with such a critical eye on research is to forward any information based on studies, without mentioning that the research was conducted by people under Senate investigation for financial conflicts of interest with pharmaceutical companies.
Kathleen Kendall-Tackett has published other misleading statements in the past regarding antidepressant effectiveness. One example was a statement in an article on PPD alternatives in Leaven magazine, which claimed that antidepressants and exercise worked at relieving depression equally, when the actual study showed that by the end of the experiment, the medication groups relapsed while the exercise groups improved.
Presumably the editors of Mothering assume that mothers must be told to use antidepressants or antipsychotics because they cannot possibly be expected to get through the horrors of depression or psychosis without taking psychiatric drugs. The assumption is that babies will miss out if their mothers wean them. We think it is a regrettable mistake to ignore the immediate risk of death to the infant in favor of a hypothetical benefit from taking psychiatric drugs.
For a magazine such as Mothering to condone the use of drugs during breastfeeding that cause infants to develop serotonin syndrome, or vomit, aspirate, suffer seizures, slip into comas and die from various toxic reactions, and to ignore the other serious nonfatal risks of these drugs is unconscionable. The wide readership of breastfeeding advocates gives your magazine added responsibilities, and we urge you to reconsider your position.
Mothering has taken seriously the topics of the risks of medicated births, vaccines, circumcision, and even chemicals in toys. In almost every respect Mothering is satisfied with nothing less than perfection in the information conveyed which can affect the way that we raise our children. But we see a blind spot when it comes to the so-called experts that Mothering endorses on the topics of postpartum depression and psychosis.
We encourage the magazine to spend some time investigating the deaths of babies linked to psychiatric drugs and breastfeeding. If you refuse to address the issue honestly you will lose not only the trust of your readers, but credibility in the much larger community of critics and informed consent advocates.
John Breeding, PhD
Filed under: antidepressants, antipsychotics, pharmacology, PPD, Pregnancy, antidepressants, Beat the Baby Blues, Breastfeeding, Breastfeeding and Depression, breastfeeding on antidepressants, breastfeeding on antipsychotics, Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, meds, Mothering Magazine, Paxil, Peggy O'Mara, SSRI, Thomas Hale, Wellbutrin, Zachary Stowe, Zoloft, Zyprexa