Stop eating your placenta, it can spread killer disease to babies, experts warn new mums

IT'S a grizzly health trend loved by celebs like Kim K, Coleen Rooney and Chrissy Teigen.

But eating your placenta isn't such a great idea after all, experts are warning new mums.

They say that there's no evidence that the practice has any health benefits, and may, in fact, transfer deadly bacteria to babies – putting both mum and baby at risk.

Placenta eating – either raw, cooked or in pill form – is said to to boost iron levels, improve milk supply and reduce the risk of post-natal depression.

But the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC) disagree.

It's scientists have been reviewing the evidence and have now published their warning, saying: "Despite the growing trend…there is no documented evidence of benefit for improved iron stores, mood or lactation".

The SOGC reviewed four scientific studies and found that the results were too weak to support any of the claims.

In one study looking into the nutritional composition of placenta, they found hardly any iron or minerals at all.

But they did find that poor handling of placentas and improper sterilisation can lead to serious health risks for both mum and baby.

"Although other harm has yet to be documented… there is potential for transmission of bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens to both mother and baby or close contacts," the report stated.

Back in 2017, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention raised concerns over placental encapsulation after a woman transferred a killer virus to her baby.

Group B streptococcus (GBS) – a bacterial infection commonly found in the vagina – was transferred to the baby via breast milk while the mum took placental capsules.

The SOGC isn't the first group to condemn placenta eating.

'Risk of harm with no evidence of benefit'

Group B Strep Support (GBSS) says that its medical advisory panel doesn't recommend placental consumption, again due to the lack of scientific evidence of benefit and the risk of potential harm.

While it says that the panel believes it's "unlikely" that dried placental capsules would be the primary cause of GBS infection, it's still a possibility.

Group B strep infections are the leading cause of infection in newborn babies, and can trigger meningitis, pneumonia and sepsis.

"As there is currently no scientific evidence of benefit from consuming dried placenta capsules, many women may prefer to ‘be on the safe side’ and avoid taking them," it concluded.

Placenta eating first became popular back in the 1970s.

Bryony McNeill, lecturer in Reproductive and Developmental Biology at Deakin University told The Conversation that placentas can also harbour other toxins.

"During pregnancy, the placenta regulates the transfer of substances between mother and baby. As such, the accumulation of potentially toxic substances can occur," she said.

"To date, there have been only a few small studies examining the toxicity profile of placenta capsules."

Vaginal seeding may also be harmful

Dr Chelsea Elwood, reproductive infectious diseases fellow at B.C. Women’s Hospital in Vancouver, Canada, told the Vancouver Sun that “placenta encapsulation and consumption is unregulated and we have no understanding of what could be happening from a safety perspective when it’s handled.

“It’s a risk of harm with no evidence of benefit.”

And that also goes for "vaginal seeding" – which is where babies born by C-section have vaginal fluids rubbed on their faces and in their mouths.

The idea is that caesareans aren't exposed to the regular vaginal bacteria babies born via vaginal delivery are.

That then, practitioners claim, makes them more vulnerable to long-term diseases like asthma.

But again, there's no evidence to suggest that this is a healthy thing to do.

Dr Elwood said: "At this point, we have no idea if when you're doing that, you're transferring the right bacteria".

Mums are allowed to take their placenta home if they tell medics beforehand.

They're then given advice on how to store it hygienically (in a freezer without any other food), to reduce the risk of it becoming infected with bacteria.

While it's unclear exactly how the trend started, other mammals eat their placenta as a matter of course.

According to some scientists, eating the placenta is done to ensure predators are not alerted to the presence of a vulnerable newborn.

Coleen Rooney said back in 2016 that taking placenta pills had "definitely" made her feel energised.

"I felt full of very positive energy and it helped with a number of pregnancy symptoms such as the producing of milk," the mum-of-four said at the time.

“I slept really well and they helped to stabilise my weight after having Kit.

“Everyone has a different reaction but in my case they were great. There are so many ways to do it now so research what’s best for you.”

Meanwhile, Khloe Kardashian revealed last year that she planned to turn her placenta into pills.

Sister Kim said back in December 2015 that eating her placenta had boosted her mood after giving birth to son Saint West."I really didn't want the baby blues and thought I can't go wrong with taking a pill made of my own hormones – made by me, for me," E! reports her as saying on her app.

"I had great results and felt so energised and didn't have any signs of depression.

"Every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and food."

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