The Dr. Brewer Pregnancy Diet
The Diet
Weekly Record
Special Needs
No-Risk Diet
Weight Gain
Bed Rest
Herbal Diuretics
Twin Pregnancy
The Twin Diet
Premature Labor
Blood Pressure
Mistaken Diagnoses
Underweight Babies
Gestational Diabetes
In Memory
Other Issues
Morning Sickness
Colds and Flu
Registry II
Registry III

History of the Brewer Diet

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Please note that SPUN no longer exists, and thus the address and phone number are no longer valid.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.


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.


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 activities.

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 91403.

Membership in SPUN represents an affiliation with others who are dedicated to preventing the high social and economic toll taken by maternal and infant disease, damage, and death caused by inadequate prenatal nutrition. The annual tax-deductible membership fee of $10 supports SPUN's essential services and includes a subscription to The Pregnant Issue.


Tom Brewer, M.D., President

Robert S. Mendelsohn, M.D., Vice President

Philip Robinson, Treasurer

Alfred D. Klinger, M.D., Secretary

Jay Hodin


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.

Linus Pauling

Douglas R. Shanklin, M.D.

Sam Tipton, M.D.

Phyllis S. Willaims, R.N.

Society for the
Protection of the
Unborn through

17 North Wabash--Suite 603
Chicago, Illinois 60602
(312) 332-2334

Copyright 1978 by Society for the Protection of the Unborn through Nutrition, Inc.

Perinatal Support Services: