Peggy O’Mara’s Response to Letter to the Editor of Mothering Magazine

Following the email on November 23 from Peggy O’Mara which stated:

We have not recommended Zyprexa in any of our articles.
Peggy

I wrote Peggy a reply the same day. Her reply to me follows that on December 20. Since she has asked that I share it with everyone I am posting both here for your benefit so that her reply will be in context. I apologize for the delay – I have been extremely busy the past three weeks and out of town, etc. Our letter to the editor (a revised version) is being considered for the March/April edition of Mothering magazine.

On 23 Nov, 2010, at 11:31 PM, Amy Philo wrote:
Dear Peggy,Thank you for responding to this letter to the editor from another activist. Did you receive the letter that John Breeding and I sent you several weeks ago? After we received no response we published it as an open letter. I did see the letter published in this month’s issue which refers readers to Katherine Stone’s Postpartum Progress and claims that nothing short of medication can help PPD. Perhaps you are still considering publishing further, more accurate information for your readers.

I could have misremembered the use of the term Zyprexa from your article and inserted it in my mind into the excerpt which tells moms to use antipsychotic drugs and continue breastfeeding in 2007. If that is the case I apologize.  I recently gave away my copy of that month’s issue before seeing your September / October article which promotes antidepressants to breastfeeding mothers, so if I am mistaken then that is my fault for getting rid of your magazine before your September edition came out, which necessitated another letter.

I would be happy to clarify the Zyprexa issue in our letter to the editor and modify it to say simply that your magazine recommended the use of “antipsychotic drugs” if it’s true that the word Zyprexa or Olanzapine has not been mentioned in any Mothering articles / posts as a choice that moms should consider.

I do remember after reading your 2007 article, going to Thomas Hale’s website and looking for any studies relating to antipsychotics and discovering that he was recommending Zyprexa on the basis of a study of the blood of six babies.

I gave my copy of your May 2007 article to a friend at a speech I gave in April so I don’t have the hard copy. However this is what I found online regarding the information that you forwarded on antipsychotics. 

These quotes below are from the excerpt that was included with the “Losing It” article from 2007 (I guess you may have had another title like “Overcoming Postpartum Psychosis” or “Victory Over Postpartum Psychosis” or something to that effect on the cover.)

Here is the Losing It article where Sarah Fields from Postpartum Support International writes about how she was on antipsychotics while breastfeeding and refers readers to Thomas Hale.http://mothering.com/health/losing-it

“Self-Care: According to Kathleen Kendall-Tackett, PhD, IBCLC, postpartum depression can be eased by use of an “adjunct treatment to help the body heal itself, but not necessarily as primary treatment. With psychosis, medications are necessary to stabilize symptoms. After that, adjunct treatments can help prevent another episode. That would be the safest course.”8

Kendall-Tackett encourages mothers who want to continue breastfeeding to do so, even through a psychotic episode. To facilitate breastfeeding, she advises: “Mothers need a supportive environment, where mom and the baby can stay together but the baby is safe. Mothers and their care providers also need to know about which medications are compatible with breastfeeding.” The best resource for that is Dr. Thomas W. Hale’s book, Medications and Mothers’ Milk.9”

Also if you google Kathleen Kendall-Tackett and Zyprexa she says it is in the L2 category of “safer” drugs for nursing, although it’s not in the “safest” category (drugs that she and apparently Mothering Magazine as well, believe have shown “no risk” to infants.

Her reply on December 20:

Dear Amy:

I apologize for the delay in my response. Thank you for emailing me directly.

We did get the letter that you and John sent in October. We are always working way in advance of publication. We began working on the January/February issue in early November and considered your letter for publication but were confused because we had not mentioned Zyprexa in any of our articles. I understand now that you might have been talking about anti-psychotic drugs in general, but since your letter does not accurately represent what we published I was not sure how best to respond to it and whether or not printing it in Your Letters might confuse our readers.

As you know, we have long advocated a natural approach to everything in our editorial coverage and were the first publication to question the use of drugs with the diagnosis ADHD, and to question the diagnosis itself. I did not see that we were advocating a new position by publishing Sarah Field’s experience and Kathleen Kendall-Tackett’s commentary. It would have seemed disingenuous to omit any reference to the fact that some women use drugs for postpartum depression. I didn’t take this as a recommendation, as it is in the context of a natural orientation, but rather a story by “one of us” who had to test her natural orientation to the limit. I thought it helped people to see her courage.

We have published articles on mothers who struggle with the recommendations of drugs for HIV from a similar vantage point and published the stories of their demonization for even questioning drugs. I think that Sarah Field’s story is more about how much she struggled not to take drugs than it was about advocating for drugs. And, similarly, we publish Kathleen Kendall-Tackett’s articles because she has a natural orientation toward postpartum depression. Her mention of women who take antipsychotic medication was an illustration of an exception, not a recommendation.

We’re considering publishing your letter in our March/April issue and have a response on hand from Kathleen Kendall-Tackett as well. We’ll let you know more in mid January.

Regards,

Peggy

PS Please be so kind as to send my response to the email list that you originally sent your letter out to.

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