Ingesting placenta has been touted as a postpartum health benefit by celebs like Kim Kardashian, Tia Mowry, Kourtney Kardashian, and Padma Lakshmi. But until now, there's been no medical science to say one way or the other whether it was healthy. All we've had to go on is the anecdotal evidence of parents who have tried it, and claimed that it improved their mood, increased energy, and helped with breast milk production.
But this week, the Centers For Disease Control released a report indicating that the encapsulated placenta pills that a mother was taking were likely responsible for her baby's strep infection that made him incredibly sick and caused difficulty breathing. As a result, the authors recommend that "placenta capsule ingestions should be avoided." However, a CDC spokeswoman told ABC News the agency hasn't taken a formal position on placenta pills yet.
Last fall, the baby had a strep infection, which doctors assumed had been passed from the mother during birth. A few weeks later, the baby became ill again. When doctors tested the placenta pills the mother had been taking, they found the bacteria resposible.
Up until now, there's been no hard evidence against human placentophagia (the act of eating the placenta after birth). The Big Bang Theory star Mayim Bialik wrote about why she decided to eat her placenta. "It’s good for mammals to eat the placenta and we evolved for that purpose," she said. "I ingested my placenta."
Even still, Mark Kristal PhD, professor emeritus of psychology at the University of Buffalo, told Refinery29 earlier this year that, while most nonhuman mammals do have a drive to eat their afterbirth, humans do not have that same drive and he feels like "there must be a reason why." There's also no way to guarantee that the placenta won't be contaminated.
Sharon Young, a UNLV researcher who has studied the practice of placentophagia told ABC News, "I've heard physicians say there's no benefit to doing it, that it's pointless. But I can't remember a statement [like the CDC report] so strongly advising against it, from a physician or anyone."
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