Friday, December 3, 2010

Why I Pick on just because it's so easy)

A little about Stat Girl. I am the mother of a beautiful, wonderful 18-month-old daughter who has brought more joy, more challenge and more meaning to my life than I ever could have imagined. Also, I am a full-time outside of the home professional; a consultant who works in the financial field. I have an undergraduate degree in Philosophy (yes, you read that correctly, an employed Philosophy major - turns out there's a lot of us and we're pretty darn good too I have an MBA in Finance and Marketing. My brain did not fry from hormone overload when I gave birth (I was terrified that it might). More personal than all this is the fact I am in recovery from an Eating Disorder. As such, I take an SSRI every day. I took one every single day of my pregnancy and every single day that I breastfed. My daughter, according to a recent assessment, is ahead in almost all of her milestones except for "empathy" (I am smothering the snark about to rise from keyboard). When my daughter was 8 months old, I woke up from the "Do everything the experts say because you, as only a mere mother and not a baby professional, do not know what's best for your child". My BS meter started lighting up like a Christmas tree.

The catalyst was a post on that was emailed to me in my weekly , "How to be a better mother" email from Babycenter. It talked about the "delayed onset of breastmilk in mothers who took SSRIs". That hit me in a more personal way than most headlines.  I read the article and it was flawed and DANGEROUS! Do you know what happens if you suggest to a fragile new mother, who is prone to depression (by the fact that she's on SSRIs to begin with) that she stop taking her pills? It's called Postpartum Depression and it's not pretty. So, I wrote to the kind folks at Here's my note:

Dear Editors:
     I have to wonder whether or not your posting of content from the Health Day news service ismerely interesting and attention grabbing. It is perhaps ill advised. I have noticed that the health day reports rarely cite any concern over study methodologies. A particular example is the one pager suggesting that use of SSRIs is associated with delayed onset of breast milk.  Since so many mothers and expectant mothers are already weary of taking ANY medication for fear it will affect their child, the decision to continue on an anti-depressant medication is one that can be truly heart wrenching.  While the mothers and mothers to be know that they are already at increased risk for post partum depression and other complications, they also know that the effects of some of these medicines aren't known. In a population predisposed to depression and the concomitant symptoms of increased feelings of guilt and anxiety, they may decide to cease or reduce medication.  This study implies that a woman who takes SSRIs will have less success in breast feeding because the delayed onset of milk may require early formula feeding. Here is the rub, did this study control for maternal age at time of the birth, dosage of the SSRI, length of time on the SSRI, the version of the SSRI (some have much longer half lives than others? What about c section vs. vaginal birth? What about duration of labor and additional interventions? A HUGE influence on milk production is the mother's overall hydration level.  Were these mothers monitored for their hydration levels? Furthermore, what was the control group? How was the SSRI variable isolated?  Since none of these answers can be made in a short one pager, I must assume that, no, they probably weren't. Basically, this article will just make the decision to continue anti-depressant therapy (a decision that rightly belongs between a woman and the prescribing doctor when ALL factors of her situation are considered) even more difficult.  If ONE woman falls victim to post partum depression as a result of the reporting in this story, it is one too many.  Not ONCE in the article NOR in the "what can you do" section was the danger of discontinuing an anti-depressant without the supervision of a LICENSED medical professional mentioned. For a site that claims to be a place for mothers, I have to wonder how such a relevant issue went unmentioned.
Thank you,
Stat Girl (name edited, of course)
San Francisco, CA
Mother to Stat Baby (I'm actually going to start calling her that) - 8 months

Here's the response:
Hi Stat Girl,

Thank you for emailing BabyCenter with your thoughtful note.  You make some good points - I will forward your email to our news editors. Thank you for your interest in BabyCenter!

Community Administrator

NO FURTHER COMMUNICATION, EVER. Even after I wrote again:

         Thank you for forwarding my concerns. I am a bit trobled that there has been no additional response to my letter. Is it normally the policy of to simply reply "thanks for writing?". I have looked for any updates on PPD and have not seen much.  However, I have noticed more coming from the wire service Reuters (which is at least a reputable news source). I am encouraging the new mothers who I know to read the reporting of studies via with a high degree of skepticism.  Furthermore, in a survey that I was asked to take for, the survey seemed to be asking my degree of confidence in the information provided by the site.  If your goal and value proposition is to be "the authority on the web for all matters baby-related", I have to question whether or not your content team is aware of what such a goal entails.  If you are simply serving as a lead source for, then I suppose catchy headlines are all that matters.  For example, today's email blast has a link to an article about VBAC. It says, "Vaginal birth after C section may be safe."  VBAC is VERY common. VBAC after multiple cesarians being safe, however is newsworthy. Making the lead link, "Vaginal birth after multiple C sections may be safe", seems like a more appropriate headline and does not imply that VBAC in general has heretofore been considered unsafe. I imagine that the click-through rate would be lower though.
Thank you again for reading my thoughts and passing them on.
Respectfully yours,
Stat Girl

MORAL OF THE STORY: This is my small way to save us from this kind of psychological warfare. That may seem hyperbolic, but that's how it feels to me.


  1. Hello Statgirl! Love the blog, and love your mission! You have my support and loyal followership! This sounds like it could be fun, and your mission is worthy of being invited to The Daily Show!

  2. Welcome Statgirl. You will have no shortage of blogging material given your chosen topic.

  3. "Thank you for emailing BabyCenter with your thoughtful note. You make some good points - I will forward your email to our news editors. Thank you for your interest in BabyCenter!"

    Ugh, it's a form letter. You can always tell a website/newspaper doesn't actually read its letters when the responses it sends could apply to basically ANY message anyone writes.