Placenta Pills: Are They Safe?

It is a trendy practice for health benefits that makes some cringe — new moms are taking pills made from their own placentas.

Celebrities like Kim Kardashian brought placenta pills into mainstream awareness after she gave birth.

But now questions have been raised about how safe it is after an Oregon infant’s infection was tied to the practice.

Sarah Mclanahan of Gloucester, Massachusetts, says she takes three placenta pills every day since she gave birth to her daughter. She had no hesitation about trying it out.

“To me, there are so few opportunities to take advantage with everything that comes with pregnancy and child birth and parenting. I just want to take advantage of them and do it when I can,” Mclanahan said.

Advocates believe eating placenta can help with postpartum depression, breast milk production and restoring iron levels. However, a group of doctors with the Centers for Disease Control published a report this month that said the pills taken by the Oregon mother appeared to have caused her infant to become infected with strep, possibly through breast milk.

The report warns against taking the pills, which are also not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration.

Doula Jennifer Frye, a former pediatric nurse for 12 years, now encapsulates placenta pills in her Salem, Massachusetts, home. She said taking the pills are safe as long as the placenta is properly sanitized and prepared. Frye picks up healthy placenta in the hours after her client gives birth. She then cleans it and dehydrates it at 160 degrees. The process is then ground into a pill powder and put into capsules.

There is very little research proving the touted benefits. The CDC has not taken a formal position on the practice.

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