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October 22, 2017

Study: You're officially not supposed to eat your placenta

Throughout the last few years, the trend of eating the placenta -- whether you’re cooking it like it’s eggplant or you’re making it into pills -- has gained attention among new parents.

Despite supporters’ long-held claims that the placenta can help ward off postpartum depression and increase energy levels, new research published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology makes it painstakingly clear that health professionals don’t think it’s such a great idea.

Authors of the study note that as the rise of alternative birthing methods has taken, so have questions surrounding best uses for the placenta besides immediately throwing it out.

Placentophagy (the term for eating the placenta) is actually pretty common among other mammals, and as stories of the benefits grow among humans -- other benefits cited have included pain reduction, milk production, and anti-aging -- the options for human placentophagy have expanded. Some companies now even specialize in preparing one’s placenta for consumption via pills, smoothies, or other methods.

Despite all of this, 60 percent of gynecologists and obstetricians surveyed in the new study said they were unfamiliar with the benefits. After analyzing every scientific study about placentophagy, they found the previous studies to be inconclusive at best, while others used voluntary subjects who were clearly biased.

What’s worse, there have been some reports of health risk from eating the placenta. Earlier this year the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned against placenta eating, and one mother infected her child while breastfeeding because of the placenta pills she was taking, the Washington Post reported.

“Physicians should discourage this practice,” the study said. “Health care organizations should develop clear clinical guidelines to implement a scientific and professional approach to human placentophagy.”

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