Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Consumption of Human Placenta Products Poses Risk to Moms, Babies: Health Canada

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Consumption of Human Placenta Products Poses Risk to Moms, Babies: Health Canada

Article excerpt

Placenta consumption poses risks: Health Canada

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TORONTO - Kim Kardashian has done it. So have moms Alicia Silverstone and Hilary Duff.

The practice of consuming one's placenta to achieve purported health benefits after giving birth is a headline-grabbing phenomenon -- and not just among celebrities.

Proponents allege that ingesting human placenta preparations helps to prevent postpartum depression, overcome anemia, increase energy levels and boost breast milk production.

But on Tuesday, Health Canada cautioned against doing so, saying there is no scientific evidence to support such medical claims and warning that it could lead to bacterial or viral infections in mothers or their babies.

The risk is higher if someone consumes placenta from another person.

"When you deliver a baby, there is a lot of bacteria in your vagina and cross-contamination with other things, like feces," said Dr. Amanda Selk, an obstetrician-gynecologist at Women's College Hospital in Toronto, commenting on Health Canada's warning. "It's all close together, especially with a vaginal delivery."

Selk said there is no scientifically proven means to prepare placenta -- whether by cooking, steaming, dehydrating or encapsulating -- that guarantees any bacteria or viruses present are destroyed.

"And some people actually eat it fresh," she said.

Health Canada cited a case reported by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control about an infant who was hospitalized for an infection from a bacteria found in the placenta pills his mother had been ingesting.

The federal department also said placenta products prepared by a third party are considered drugs and are subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act. No such products containing human placenta are authorized for consumption in Canada.

Meaghan Grant, co-owner of Toronto Family Doulas, said her company has been providing placenta capsules to new mothers since June 2016 at a cost of $325. …

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