Eating Your Placenta Could End Up Costing You

pregnant

Moms eating their placenta has become a trendy thing these days, due to claims that it comes with a host of health benefits. Yet a new study warns moms that there's no proof of these claims, and that this practice may even be dangerous.

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Researchers at Northwestern reviewed 10 current studies on placentophagy (the practice of placenta eating), and the results aren't too promising. They found no evidence that eating the placenta -- raw, cooked or encapsulated -- offered any of its much-touted benefits.

And there were a LOT of benefits that this study called into question: Placenta eating has been said to ward off postpartum depression, reduce post-birth pain, boost milk production and energy levels in the mom, replenish iron levels, and even enhance maternal bonding with baby.

For instance: One 2013 study reviewed looked at the self-reported experiences of women who'd eaten their placentas. 40 percent reported that their mood improved, 26 percent said they had more energy, and 15 percent reported better breast milk production. The problem? That's study author ran a placenta encapsulation service, so that's hardly an objective perspective -- more likely a ploy to sell more product!

Meanwhile, another animal study reviewed found there may be pain-killing chemicals in the placenta's amniotic fluid ... but only if those opioids were already in the animal's system. Plus this study was just on animals and doesn't easily translate to humans.

More from The Stir: 10 Amazing Things About Your Placenta

Only what about those who are now thinking, "Well, the jury's out on whether it helps, but it probably can't hurt"? Well, the researchers had something to say about that too: Placenta eating could carry risks. For instance, eating it raw could carry contamination risks. Or even if it's cooked, since placentas act as a buffer filtering out toxins before they reach the baby, placentas have been found to contain selenium, lead, and mercury -- things that can be dangerous to eat.

Granted, these researchers haven't nailed the coffin shut on placenta eating just yet. Rather, a lot more research must be done before we start raving unequivocally about the benefits of this practice. So, here's to hoping that scientists continue unraveling the mysteries of the placenta so moms can decide for themselves if it's worth taking a bite.

Would you eat your placenta?

 

Image via 2nix Studio/shutterstock

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