Eating placenta has become somewhat more acceptable, especially after celebrities like the Kardashians and January Jones have eaten their own placenta after giving birth. However, this may not be a good idea, as the US's Center for Disease Control (CDC) warns.
In fact, eating your placenta probably won't be beneficial. There's been no hard evidence that consuming placenta after giving birth has any good effects. The CDC has also published a report claiming that when new mothers consume placenta, it can potentially harm their babies. Thus, not only is consuming placenta unproven to be beneficial, it can also negatively impact newborns.
Sharon Young, a researcher who has done extensive research on the practice of consuming placenta, says that the practice is relatively new. Though the consumption of placenta has had its place in traditional Chinese medicine, it wasn't until the 60s and 70s that parents thought to eat placenta after the mother has given birth.
According to the CDC, the consumption of placenta may have led to an infection in an infant in Oregon last year. The baby's mother had sent her placenta to be ground up and turned into capsules that she later ingested. Shortly after the mother consumed the capsules, her baby fell ill twice with a strep infection. It's possible that the mother infected the child upon giving birth, which caused the first bout of infection. However, doctors were baffled as to what caused the illness in the baby the second time around, until they discovered that the mother had consumed her placenta.
Thus, doctors thought it best to test the capsules for anything that may have caused the baby to fall ill. They found that the placenta itself had bacteria that can cause infections. This may have caused illness in the child, who likely didn't have a strong enough immune system to fight off the bacteria's effects.
The company that created the capsules grind placenta down and turns it into gel capsules. The CDC says that the company that made the capsules may not have heated the placenta properly. As a result, the harmful bacteria may have survived long enough to possibly infect the baby.
Eating placenta may seem a little out there, but it's actually not unheard of—at least in the animal world. Mammal mothers eat their placenta after giving birth to their young. Humans as well as camels were unique in that they never felt naturally compelled to eat placenta after giving birth.
Placenta plays an important role in pregnancy. It gives the growing fetus the necessary oxygen, nutrients, protection, and hormones. However, post-natal placenta contain bacteria, lead, and mercury, which can be harmful.
While medical professionals have said that there are no clear benefits to consuming placenta, they also haven't issued strong warnings against the practice. However, the CDC has now taken it upon itself to warn people against eating placenta. If people take heed of this warning, or if they take more care in preparing the placenta they consume, they may avoid getting their babies sick in the future.
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