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Open Access Commentary

Avoiding risk at what cost? Putting use of medicines for breastfeeding women into perspective

Lisa H Amir*, Kath M Ryan and Susan E Jordan

International Breastfeeding Journal 2012, 7:14  doi:10.1186/1746-4358-7-14

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Good point, wrong premise

Patricia Loewy   (2012-12-13 21:27)  Union Institute and University

I wholeheartedly agree with the main point made, that physicians and other health professionals should know more about where to research when counseling new breastfeeding mothers on medication.

But stating that "The majority of breastfeeding women do take medication [12,13], as women face both acute illnesses and ongoing medical conditions in the postpartum period" in an article built on a bipolar woman who killed her infant and herself, makes it sound like women are faced with debilitating illnesses which can have dire consequences all the time.

In fact, the newer source quoted from 2004 reveals that by far most of the women who took medications used vitamins, oral analgesics, and iron supplements; hardly the stuff that requires anybody to consider breastfeeding cessation. That source also reveals a picture of informed women who did use drugs they needed to take and took measures to minimize exposure when possible.

Given her history, Dr. Emson was failed by everybody in her private life and by her doctor, who all should have been much more involved and should have felt obligated to put pressure on her to restart her medications. As a physician she would have known the risk vs. benefits and she was obviously not of sound mind to make appropriate decisions. It is inconceivable to me that a unmedicated bipolar woman with a history of suicide and hospitalizations was basically left alone to make decisions, without her loved ones and professionals intervening to the fullest extent of the law if necessary.

The pressures of having to be a "good mother" have hardly anything to do with this (not to argue that conceptualizing of breastfeeding as being a good mother, vs. formula feeding as being a bad mother is a good thing; it isn't, but not for the reasons stated here).

Patricia Loewy

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