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Newborn became sick from mother eating her own placenta

Kidspot Editor |

Kim Kardashian and January Jones have done it but a new report has called into question the practise that is purported to reduce postpartum depression.



For some mothers it’s too gross to even contemplate but for others, eating your placenta after birth may seem like a harmless sort of thing to try if you can get past the ick factor.

However a report from the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention this week found that a baby became ill as a result of its mother eating her own placenta.

According to The Washington Post the  Oregon baby was born healthy and without complication.

But the baby soon began to experience respiratory distress.

Doctors began a series of tests and discovered a deadly blood infection known as late-onset group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS) bacteremia.

According to the report doctors treated the baby with antibiotics. But upon returning home the baby became sick with another GBS infection.

Placenta the cause

It was at this point that doctors discovered that the mother’s placenta was causing the illness.

The mother had been eating her placenta - processed and encapsulated by a registered company (not identified in the report) for a number of weeks.



Dried placenta powder. Source: supplied.


Cleaned, sliced and dehydrated

“According to Company A’s website, the placenta is cleaned, sliced, and dehydrated at 46°C–71°C, then ground and placed into about 115–200 gelatin capsules, and stored at room temperature,” the report states.

The mother had transferred the infection to the child through her breast milk.

According to the CDC report, the mother had been ingesting two capsules three times a day, since three days post-birth.

Once the mother stopped taking the capsules the baby recovered.

The practise of eating placenta, either raw, or dried and powdered has gained traction in recent years.

Celebrities such as January Jones and Kim Kardashian have spoken publicly about doing it.



January Jones told Glamour magazine  “It’s not gross or witchcrafty. Nor am I putting it in a shake or eating it raw.

“It’s a very civilised thing that can help women with depression or fatigue. I was never depressed or sad or down after the baby was born, so I’d highly suggest it to any pregnant woman.”

There are claims that it reduces postpartum depression, boosts mood and increases milk production.

No scientific evidence

“Placenta ingestion has recently been promoted to postpartum women for its physical and psychological benefits, although scientific evidence to support this is lacking,” the CDC report states.

There are currently no standards set for processing placenta for human consumption.

Crystal Clark, assistant professor of psychiarty and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine told The Washington Post that there was very little evidence that ingesting a placenta offers health benefits.

Pain reduction only benefit

“Of all the studies available, only one showed potential for benefit, and it showed the potential for pain reduction immediately after labor,” Clark said. “But that particular study, although quite rigorous and convincing, suggested that the placenta had to be eaten right after birth, completely, in its entirety, and that it couldn’t be stored or heated.”