New Report Reveals Dangers of Placenta Consumption

Trendy or not, there are risks associated with eating your placenta, and a new report from the CDC sheds light on what new moms should know.

No Proven Benefits to Eating Your Placenta g-stockstudio/Shutterstock
You've probably heard there are some health benefits associated with eating your placenta after birth. The act has definitely had its moment in the spotlight, with Hollywood moms praising its ability to ward off postpartum depression, boost milk production, and speed up the postnatal healing process. 

But if a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is any indication, there are some truly serious risks associated with eating your own placenta. The report details a case involving a baby who was born healthy and without complications, but soon developed respiratory issues. When doctors examined the baby, they discovered the presence of B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) bacteremia, a dangerous blood infection. Moms may have heard of it as group B strep, which all pregnant women should be tested for at 35 to 37 weeks.

Doctors treated the baby's infection with antibiotics, but it came back. During the infant's second hospital admission, a birth center physician told the team treating the baby that the mother requested her placenta after she gave birth. The team put two and two together and were able to diagnose the issue: They linked the baby's infection to the placenta—the mother was consuming it in capsule form, and she appeared to pass the infection along to the baby while breastfeeding.

The team examined the placenta capsules and confirmed this link: The pills were full of GBS.

The scary thing about GBS is that mothers could easily have it in their own systems without realizing it, as GBS often doesn't cause infections in healthy adults. But it can certainly affect newborns (who don't have developed immune systems) in some terrifying ways. According to the CDC, GBS can cause babies to develop sepsis (infection of the blood), pneumonia (infection in the lungs), and meningitis (infection of the fluid and lining around the brain). 

The most dangerous thing about eating your placenta? There's no health standard surrounding how placenta is processed for consumption. According to the CDC's report, in the case of this newborn with GBS the placenta may not have been heated enough to kill off the bacterium.

Furthermore, the CDC notes that while placenta consumption may be trendy, there's no scientific proof that any of its rumored benefits actually exist. So in light of this news, we have to say it: Eating your placenta might not be the best idea.