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Is It Safe to Eat Your Placenta? Maybe Not

Recently the idea of placentophagy, or the act of consuming the placenta, has made its way to the mainstream. Although most of us moms find the practice off-putting, there are others who believe the alleged health benefits are worth it. But is it safe to eat your placenta? A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests it may not be.

According to the report , an Oregon newborn likely became sick as a result of his mom taking encapsulated placenta pills. The baby boy had a group B streptococcus infection, an illness that can be passed to a newborn during birth. He was fully treated  with antibiotics, recovered, and released from the hospital. He was readmitted five days later and again diagnosed with group B strep, according to CNN.

Since such a recurrence is uncommon, the medical team on the case sought to find the source. They tested the mom’s breast milk, which came back negative. Then they tested the mom’s placenta pills; they tested positive for group B strep. 

The team concluded the pills were very likely the reason the boy got sick again. And there are other health risks to consider, says Parents magazine. Since the placenta acts as a filter in your body, it could be contaminated and make you ill. Or it could quickly become so when delivered into a germ-y, non-sterile hospital delivery room or birthing center.

Are There Health Benefits?

Eating the placenta has become more mainstream in recent years, as celebrities like Alicia Silverstone and Kim Kardashian cast a light on it. Advocates of the practice say eating your placenta has postpartum health benefits ranging from increased energy and reduced bleeding to increased milk production and less chance of postpartum depression. Mainstream medical practitioners and agencies like the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) remain skeptical. They point out that there are no studies to support the claims.

While some moms opt to eat their placenta raw, the majority opt for it to be cooked or dehydrated and encapsulated, the CNN story noted. The business of placenta preparation in any form is unregulated by the FDA. The trade group Association for Placenta Preparation Arts (APPA) does provide guidelines and standards for placenta preparation. In response to the CDC report, the APPA issued a statement saying when the placenta is prepared correctly using proper temperatures and techniques, placentophagy is safe for moms and their babies.

What do you think? If you were considering placentophagy, does news of the baby’s infection give you pause? 

About the author

Witty Mom

The Witty Mom is a Brooklyn-based writer, editor and mama. When not running around with her five-year old boy -- or preparing for the birth of his little brother -- she writes about parenting, natural beauty, wellness and green living for publications like Natural Health, Prevention and TODAYShow.com, or collaborates on books like Josh Dorfman's The Lazy Environmentalist.

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