There are many pieces of the history behind the eventual development of the Brewer Diet. I will be adding to the pieces
of that story posted here, as I find them and compile them.
A Brewer Diet Timeline
An overview of the history of the formation of the Brewer philosophy and diet
"Preventing eclampsia: an interview with Tom Brewer, MD", Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, November 2004
Rejection Letter from the March of Dimes, May 21, 1982
Pre-eclampsia Precedent-Setting Lawsuit 1977 (assisted by SPUN)
"Why Women Must Meet the Nutritional Needs of Pregnancy" (1977) Part I
"Why Women Must Meet the Nutritional Needs of Pregnancy" (1977) Part II
"Why Women Must Meet the Nutritional Needs of Pregnancy" (1977) Part III
Newspaper Article from The Commercial Appeal, May 13, 1976
"Iatrogenic Starvation in Human Pregnancy", 1974
Dr. Brewer's Prenatal Nutrition Class (1963)
The Dedication in Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy, by Tom Brewer, M.D., 1966 and 1982.
About the Authors--Gail Sforza Brewer and Thomas H. Brewer, M.D.
Preface to the First Edition: Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy
(Dr. Thomas H. Brewer)
Introduction to this New Edition: Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregancy, 1982
(Dr. Lendon Smith)
Foreword to this New Edition: Metabolic Toxemia of Late Pregnancy, 1982
(Dr. Douglas R. Shanklin)
The existence of the "Society for the Protection of the Unborn Through Nutrition" (SPUN) is an important part of this history.
I have copied here the text of a pamphlet published by SPUN in 1978.
I hope that you will find it as interesting as I do to see the role that SPUN had in making the use of diuretics in pregnancy
largely a thing of the past. I also find the list of MDs, RNs, and PhDs in the list of supporters and associate members to
SPUN to be quite a statement to those who, even in our current times, might accuse Tom Brewer of quackery.
Please note that SPUN no longer exists, and thus the address and phone number are no longer valid.
Society For the Protection of the Unborn Through Nutrition
More than 200,000 children are born with definite neurological damage every year in the U.S. Tens of thousands of additional
children are afflicted with other abnormalities which are also largely preventable. These tragedies continue to occur even
though medical authorities have demonstrated that the majority of such mental and physical impairment are preventable conditions
originating before birth. Major technological advancements in perinatology, such as amniocentesis, fetal monitoring,
sonargrams, and intensive care nurseries, in addition to increased expenditures for health care, which exceed $140 billion
annually in the U.S., have not led to marked improvement in maternal and infant health during the last two decades.
The basic foundation for neurological development occurs during pregnancy, the latter stage representing the period of most
rapid brain cell growth. Scientists have determined that a child born to a malnourished mother can have a marked reduction
of brain cells and be neurologically impaired. Moreover, the detrimental consequences of inadequate prenatal nutrition can
frequently not be reversed.
Extensive scientific research conducted for more than four decades has documented the direct relationship between prenatal
nutrition and maternal and infant health. In a noted 1943 Harvard study, there were no cases of toxemia, congenital anomalies,
or neonatal deaths among a group of well-fed women. In contrast, two-thirds of the children born to women who were on poor
prenatal diets had congenital abnormalities, died within the first few days of life, or were likely to develop neurological
dysfunction. Furthermore, 44 percent of the mothers developed toxemia, which had been linked to malnutrition in 1935. In
another study (in 1941) there were no stillbirths or premature births among a group of 750 high-risk women who participated
in a scientific nutrition program. Among women of comparable socioeconomic status, the infant death rate was 13 1/2 times
higher than in the group of well-fed women. Several hundred additional studies provide physiological, neurological, and statistical
documentation of the protective effects of sound prenatal nutrition.
One of the most direct consequences of inadequate nutrition is lowered birth weight, which is an accurate indicator of childhood
health and development. Studies have shown that low-birth-weight babies (under 5 1/2 pounds) are up to 30 times more likely
to die within the first month of life and 10 times more susceptible to mental retardation than those of higher birth weight.
They are also much more prone to other neurological impairment, malformations, learning disabilities, psychological disturbances,
and related disorders. A good reflection of our lack of progress in maternal and infant health is the high incidence of
underweight births, which was at approximately the same level 50 years ago. The low birth weight rate is two to three times
higher in the U.S. than in nations which have adopted nutrition education as a fundamental aspect of obstetrical care.
THE THALIDOMIDE II ERA
Despite the implications of he nutritional stress of pregnancy, there has been little recognition of the role of malnutrition
in human reproductive pathology. Consistent with the general nonchalance about the direct link between sound nutrition and
pregnancy-related complications is the lack of awareness among health care professionals that maternal health and fetal
health are inseparable. Obstetrical care is basically dominated by symptomatic and crisis medicine, a practice which
has jeopardized the lives and health of hundreds of thousands of expectant mothers and their newborns. The Society for the
Protection of the Unborn through Nutrition (SPUN) advocates applied nutrition as the most effective and primary means of prevention-oriented
prenatal care. Many unscientific and traditional practices, which were never even considered by veterinarians in the management
of pregnant animals, characterize the medical care of pregnant women.
In a futile attempt to prevent "toxemia of pregnancy," weight control and salt restriction have become widespread obstetrical
practices despite the fact that there never was scientific evidence demonstrating their benefits or safety. The misdiagnosis
of water retention (which in a healthy, well-nourished woman is physiologic and benign) is responsible for widespread interference
of normal physiological processes with the unscientific imposition of dietary limitations. These restrictive diets, which
are usually centered around weight control, salt restriction, and drugs (especially diuretics and, less frequently, appetite
suppressants) cause intrauterine growth retardation and accompanying morbidity and mortality. The use of such unscientific
regimens can mask the symptoms of the conditions they supposedly prevent and induce complications or increase their severity.
Some of the maternal complications caused by poor nutrition to which these regimens can lead are metabolic toxemia of late
pregnancy (which is strictly a disease of malnutrition), abruption of the placenta, severe maternal-fetal infections, and
anemias. Because restrictive prenatal diets coupled with the use of diuretics have also contributed to an alarmingly high
rate of brain damage in children, medical mismanagement characterized by the use of low-salt diets, weight control, and/or
drugs has been termed Thalidomide II.
Since healthy children are born to well-nourished women within a wide range of weight gain, SPUN encourages pregnant women
to eat to appetite in accordance with sound nutritional guidance without regard for the amount of weight gained. A vital
nutrient in pregnancy is salt, which helps maintain the expanded blood volume, thereby enhancing fetal nourishment, allowing
the woman to easily tolerate the loss of blood at delivery, and improving lactation. Studies have shown that cases of severe
complications of pregnancy and delivery and infant neurological dysfunction are rare among well-fed women who allow themselves
a natural weight gain and who salt their food to taste.
SPUN'S EFFORTS AND ACTIVITIES
Through SPUN's educational services, tens of thousands of individuals have learned of the critical importance of applied scientific
nutrition. Dedicated to the principle that pregnancy should be a safe, healthy, and rewarding experience, the organization
advocates the establishment of standards for the nutritional management of pregnancy and warns health care professionals and
expectant mothers of the potentially tragic consequences of Thalidomide II.
In accordance with SPUN's campaign to ban diuretics in pregnancy (except in rare, non-pregnancy related instances), the organization
played an active role in the initiation of and participation in an open hearing on the use of the drugs by the OB/GYN Advisory
Committee of the Food and Drug Administration Bureau of Drugs on July 17, 1975. As a result of the hearing, at which the
use of diuretics as well as low-salt diets were condemned in pregnancy in general and especially in the presence of metabolic
toxemia of late pregnancy (MTLP), the FDA imposed somewhat restrictive (but not entirely adequate) regulations for the use
of diuretics in pregnancy. These drugs are responsible for a vast amount of complications and instances of brain damage.
In an effort to discourage obstetricians from using potentially hazardous dietary regimes, SPUN established a national clearinghouse
to provide information on legal actions arising from Thalidomide II practices. The Litigation Information Center functions
as a source of referrals to attorneys who represent families victimized by prenatal nutritional mismanagement. The Center
also coordinates pertinent research activities, recommends expert witnesses, and maintains progress reports as individual
cases come to trial. In a precedent-shattering decision on September 17, 1977, a jury found an obstetrician guilty of malpractice
for prescribing an inadequate diet and diuretics to a pregnant woman who subsequently gave birth to a mentally retarded child.
In this historic case, SPUN provided medical advisors for the plaintiff's attorneys and five expert witnesses who testified
on her behalf.
Several SPUN publications have been widely distributed and used successfully in promoting the critical importance of sound
prenatal nutrition. Some of these include "Pregnant? And Want a Healthy Child?" (an excellent guide for expectant mothers),
"Preventing Nutritional Complications of Pregnancy: A Manual for SPUN Counselors" (ideal for childbirth educators), a bibliography
of pertinent scientific studies, and other useful materials. SPUN's bi-monthly newsletter, The Pregnant Issue: Medicate
or Educate?, contains current news on maternal and infant health plus reviews of research studies in addition to regular
features. The organization provides speakers for classes, conventions, and workshops and is active in various community-related
SPUN's message is clearly stated and thoroughly documented in What Every Pregnancy Woman Should Know: The Truth About
Diets and Drugs in Pregnancy, by Gail Sforza Brewer and Tom Brewer, M.D. (Random House, 1977). Also recommended (especially
for childbirth educators and professionals involved in obstetrical care) is the 30-minute color film (with sound) "Nutrition
in Pregnancy," which is available for rental or purchase from Hathaway Productions, 4846 Katherine Avenue, Sherman Oaks, CA
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Tom Brewer, M.D., President
Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D., Vice President
Philip Robinson, Treasurer
Alfred D. Klinger, M.D., Secretary
Don Bartlette, M.S.Ed.
G. Vern Beckett
Gail Sforza Brewer
Roberto Caldeyro-Barcia, M.D.
Lucia Cies, M.D.
M.T. Dikkers, Ph.D., D.Sc.
H. Lee Fleshood, Ph.D.
Carlton Fredericks, Ph.D.
Jay and Marjie Hathaway (Directors, AAHCC)
Daniel Hubbard, D.V.M., Dr.P.H.
Yasuo Ishida, M.D., FACOG
Stephen E. Langer, M.D., Lic. Ac.
Tom Morjig, M.S.
Benj. Pasamanick, M.D.
Douglas R. Shanklin, M.D.
Sam Tipton, M.D.
Phyllis S. Willaims, R.N.
Society for the
Protection of the
17 North Wabash--Suite 603
Chicago, Illinois 60602
Copyright 1978 by Society for the Protection of the Unborn through Nutrition, Inc.