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The hidden dangers of eating placenta: Is it really 'healthy' and beneficial?

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Another dangerous fad pushed by celebrities

Eating placenta is an odd, but growing trend in some parts of the country. New research from Northwestern University has found that this trend has absolutely no health benefits, and may actually pose unknown health risks.

Highlights

By Matt Waterson (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (https://www.catholic.org)
6/5/2015 (5 years ago)

Published in Health

Keywords: Health, Fitness, Family, Science, Newborn

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The placenta is an organ within the womb that keeps the mother's blood supply separate from her child's and is connected by an umbilical cord. Nutrients and oxygen pass from the mother to child through the placenta and waste products pass from the unborn baby to the mother to be disposed of properly.

Eating of the placenta has become a growing trend because of claims that eating the placenta will protect new mothers from postpartum depression, reduce post-delivery pain, aid in lactation, boost energy, replenish iron lost to the baby and birth and promote skin elasticity, as well as enhance maternal bonding, but the study found these benefits were not true.


Published in the medical journal Archives of Women's Mental Health, researchers looked into 10 currently published studies on eating the placenta (known as placentophagy), which helped them draw conclusions about the safety and benefits of the act.

"Our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants," said the study's lead author Cynthia Coyle, a Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine faculty member and a psychologist, in a statement.

One major problem is that placentas are not regulated in how they are cooked or stored, which can cause bacteria to grow in the short time between birth and consumption. Some celebrity mother's, like Kourtney Kardashian, promote this behavior, but lack scientific basis in what they is promoting and could be encouraging easily swayed mothers to do something that could harm them and even their children.

"Our sense is that people aren't making this decision based on science or talking with physicians. Some women are making this based on media reports, blogs and websites," said another one of the study's author, Dr. Crystal Clark, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Northwestern.

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