The Grapevine

Eating Placenta Could Be Harmful To Your Baby's Health Via Breastmilk, CDC Warns

All it takes is a few celebrities to vouch for a wacky trend before everyday people start following. After stars like Katherine Heigl and Kourtney Kardashian admitted to eating their placentas post-birth, the unsavory practice has become more common, much to doctors’ dismay. The Centers for Disease Control just released a report urging mothers not to eat placenta, whether through pills or a smoothie (as are common), as the organ can actually be harmful for your baby’s health via breastmilk.

ReadMom’s Viral Photos Reveal Reality Of Postpartum Depression; ‘We Need To Break The Stigma’

According to the paper, last year an infant in Oregon developed a bacterial infection. Just five days after being discharged, the baby was taken to the emergency room for irritability and admitted to a second hospital. A few days in, the physician in charge of the child’s care was informed by a doctor working at the hospital where the baby was born that the mother had requested her placenta to be released and made into pills. After learning that the mother had been taking two placenta capsules three times a day, the doctor ordered her to stop taking the pills, which were likely the cause of the infection. A cultured test of the placenta pills showed that it was in fact contaminated with a type of bacteria. After being treated, the baby was finally released.

placenta-2433431_1920 Health benefits of placenta pills are not scientifically backed and could actually cause more harm than good. Pixabay

The CDC notes that ingesting placenta has been promoted as a relief for postpartum depression, but there is ino scientific evidence to support the claim. As they write in the report, “No standards exist for processing placenta for consumption. Heating at 130°F (54°C) for 121 minutes is required to reduce Salmonella bacterial counts.”

"Bacteria and elements such as mercury and lead have been identified in the post-term placenta," said Dr. Crystal Clark, a psychiatrist who deals with mood disorders at Northwestern University, to CBS News. "So if the theory is that we retain nutrients and hormones such as estrogen and iron that could be beneficial, then the question becomes what harmful substances can also be retained that could harm the mother or the baby if she is breastfeeding."

Additionally, Clark has conducted research on the benefits of placenta eating and found no scientific proof that it can do any good.

"We found that women most frequently chose to engage in placentophagy for the perceived benefit of improved mood and energy recovery," Clark said to CBS. "But when we looked at the animal studies, we were not able to find evidence that supported any of the health claims."

Despite the lack of research and doctors’ warnings, advocates still believe that ingesting placenta can have significant benefits.

BBC reports on a mother Charlie Poulter from Reading, England who believes that taking a small piece of placenta in a daily cocktail of berries and banana significantly increased her energy.  

"My daughter Lillian was my first child, so I have nothing to compare this to, but I had a lot of energy - I didn't feel completely dead,” she tells the website.

ReadNewborn Baby Holding IUD Proves Birth Control Isn't 100 Percent Effective

Still, doctors aren’t likely to advise their patients do this anytime soon.

"With something like this, you have to carefully look at what the reported benefits are, what's proven, and if it makes sense when you investigate it further," Dr. Rebecca Starck told CBS. "That's what I would really want to talk to my patients about and their reasons for wanting to do it. If the concern is postpartum depression or milk supply or sleepless nights, we can work with you to address these very common symptoms and conditions.

See Also:

Drinking While Pregnant: Baby's Facial Features Changed By Any Amount Of Alcohol, Says New Study

Baby Blues Diet: Nutritional Supplements May Prevent Post-Partum Depression

Loading...