More and more moms are
choosing to ingest their placenta after giving birth because many believe
it provides a myriad of benefits, such as helping with postpartum depression, easing insomnia, encouraging
breast milk production and boosting energy levels. During pregnancy, the placenta provides oxygen and nutrients to
the fetus. And though most mammals consume their placenta after giving birth, camels
and humans have been the exception.
However, the science to support these benefit claims just isn't solid—although that hasn’t stopped anecdotal testimonials from celebrities such as
Kim Kardashian, January Jones and Alicia Silverstone from touting perceived benefits of it to their fans.
But it turns out we need to be more careful about ingesting our own placenta than we may have thought.
Last year, a newborn in Oregon was diagnosed with a strep
infection that was making it hard for the infant to breathe. The baby was given
antibiotics to treat the infection, but ended up in the
hospital soon after, testing positive for strep again.
Looking for a cause, doctors learned
that the baby’s mother was taking dried placenta capsules and they instructed
her to stop taking them. The doctors ran tests on the capsules to confirm their suspicion, and guess what? They tested positive
According to a report published this week by the CDC, a mother’s consumption of “contaminated placenta capsules might have elevated maternal
GBS intestinal and skin colonization, facilitating transfer to the infant.”
GBS refers to group B Streptococcus agalactiae bacteremia,
the bacteria that infected the infant.
Doctors and health officials responsible for the report
point out that the production of placenta capsules is not regulated—meaning there are no standards for safety—and it’s
quite possible that the placenta in this particular case was not heated to a
temperature that was high enough to kill dangerous pathogens.
Even though the CDC has not taken an official stance on
placenta pill consumption, this report warns against the practice and encourages
health care providers to warn new moms about the potential risks of placenta