A new report warns new moms that pills made out of their dehydrated placenta could harbor dangerous bacteria.
Eating one’s placenta—the organ grown during pregnancy to support a fetus—has become somewhat popular. (January Jones, Alicia Silverstone, and Kim and Kourtney Kardashian all did it.) Generally the way it works is the placenta is freeze dried, ground up, and encapsulated to form little pills you take postpartum.
But now the Associated Press reports:
In an unusual report published Thursday, a group of doctors and health officials say the capsules appear to have caused an infant’s illness in Portland, Oregon, last fall. The authors said moms should avoid taking them, noting that the making of placenta capsules is not regulated and there’s no guarantee they are free of harmful germs.
The researchers include some lab scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. A CDC spokeswoman said the agency hasn’t taken a formal position on placenta pills, and that the warning was the authors’ conclusion.
The Associated Press spoke to Sharon Young, a UNLV researcher who studies the practice but was not involved in writing the report. “I’ve heard physicians say there’s no benefit to doing it, that it’s pointless. But I can’t remember a statement so strongly advising against it, from a physician or anyone,” she said.
Stat News provides a little more background on the specific case described:
The case report describes an infant born in Oregon in fall 2016 who was soon after diagnosed with a strep infection that was causing breathing difficulties. After a course of antibiotics, the baby was immediately hospitalized again and tested positive for strep a second time. Doctors, searching for the source of the infection, eventually realized that the mother was taking daily dried placenta capsules. Testing of the capsules confirmed that they were strep positive.
It’s not just strep you should consider, either: “Placental tissue, consumed raw, may contain various kinds of bacteria. But even prepared placenta—whether by cooking, drying, or preservation—can transmit infection,” the Stat article continued, citing the risk of its not being cooked at hot enough temperatures to kill any nasties.
When in doubt, don’t put your own body parts into pills and take them without your doctor’s advice.