The truth about eating placentas

The truth about eating placentas

It may be trendy, but is it safe?

A review published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology sought to answer this about placentophagy: the practice of eating the placenta after childbirth.

“The function of the placenta is to provide nutrient- and oxygen-rich blood from the mom to the baby,” says Dr. Melissa Dennis, an obstetrician at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center in Chicago. “It also simultaneously removes fetal metabolic waste.”

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian have helped spark this conversation about the placenta, which can be consumed raw, cooked, dehydrated, in capsule form or even in smoothies.

Dr. Dennis says most women who request to take their placenta home believe it will help prevent post-partum depression, increase milk supply, decrease post-partum bleeding and increase energy. However, she cautions that human studies have not been shown to support these ideas. In addition to a lack of scientific evidence proving the benefits, a new case suggests there may be risks.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently reviewed a case of an infant who developed a recurrent, life-threatening infection. The same strain of the infection suffered by the baby was found in placental capsules the mother had been ingesting.

“That particular case is only one instance, but it is eye opening,” says Dr. Dennis. “The dangers of ingesting one’s placenta are largely infectious. There is no standardization in how placentas or capsules are prepared, and many methods do not reach sufficient temperatures for a long enough period of time to kill the majority of bacteria that could be present.”

“I would advise anyone to really look at risks and benefits and take caution when ingesting placental capsules,” says Dr. Dennis.

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  1. This is a disgusting article and should not have been published. Is this the content that Advocate believes its readers are interested in? Very poor judgement.

  2. The way some young people are influenced by Hollywood and some of the dizzy stars is appalling hence I commend you for bringing forth a common sense side to the question. Thank you and keep up the good you do

  3. Carol Huntsinger October 17, 2017 at 3:12 pm · Reply

    Obviously, all Advocate patients are not interested in the content. But–This article is important for expectant mothers, who might have been influenced by Kim Kardashian. This is also important for medical personnel, social workers, expectant fathers etc. who might be dealing with expectant mothers who are entertaining the idea of eating placenta. It is an unsafe practice and should be discouraged.

  4. Believe it or not, this information is relative. I work in this industry and there is a fair amount of people that think the placenta is magic. Other than stem cell retrieval, which is better satisfied with umbilical cord blood or umbilical cord tissue, I would choose to discard it as medical waste. Thanks for the article!

  5. I think this is almost akin to cannibalism. Very disgusting in my point of view that is eating a human beings former part of the body. Sorry my point of view only, no harm intended.

  6. Sorry — this is just repulsive. And certainly anything discussed by a celebrity (esp. a Kardasian) is absolutely irrelevant. This is a poor “trend” and would be best not published…In my opinion. Self-cannibalism…just NO.

  7. Are you really asking why Advocate would publish this? It’s medical related and clearly people need a better understanding. There should be info out there as to whether or not this is a safe practice published by medical based publications.

  8. This IS a VERY relevant discussion. Many new mother & expecting RN’s have or plan to eat their baby’s placenta (or so they tell me).
    It was surprising to me as a healthcare professional and believe it or not grossed me out (which takes a lot)!

  9. I believe this is a relevant article. I appreciate that Advocate shared this information, as my friend (who just gave birth 2 weeks ago) was discussing this with me.

  10. Good article but actually not emphatic enough. This practice – which is centuries old and by no means was ‘invented’ by Ms Kardashian) is both barbaric and medically unsound. It’s good to see the newsletter addressing it. I wish the physicians quoted had delivered a firm No however.

  11. Thank you Dr Dennis for speaking on this topic. It is definitely a trend that is spreading, and I have been wondering if there was any science to back it up. It concerns me that women are practicing this without the knowledge.

  12. There are several traditions, including Traditional Chinese Medicine, which has been being using placentas to enhance the health of the mother and the baby for thousands of years. To call a system “barbaric” is merely calling names without evidence.

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About the Author

health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Health Care and Aurora Health Care sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.