Northwestern University Study Questions the Practice of Mothers Eating Their Placenta

220px-Northwestern_University_SealMany non-human mammal mothers consume their placenta after giving birth. Now the practice – called placentophagy – is becoming popular among human mothers. Those that advocate placentophagy claim that it may help combat postpartum depression, helps with lactation, and replenishes iron in the mother’s body. But a new study by researchers at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern found that there is no scientific evidence that the practice is beneficial.

coyleFurthermore, there have been no studies on the possible risks of eating the placenta. Lead author of study, Cynthia W. Coyle, a psychologist at the medical school, stated that “our sense is that women choosing placentophagy, who may otherwise be very careful about what they are putting into their bodies during pregnancy and nursing, are willing to ingest something without evidence of its benefits and, more importantly, of its potential risks to themselves and their nursing infants.” Dr. Coyle adds that “there are no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and the dosing is inconsistent. Women really don’t know what they are ingesting.” Dr. Coyle holds a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of Illinois.

clarkCrystal Clark, an assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the medical school and co-author of the article, adds, “there are a lot of subjective reports from women who perceived benefits, but there hasn’t been any systematic research investigating the benefits or the risk of placenta ingestion.” Dr. Clark earned a master’s degree and a medical degree at the University of Louisville.

The article, “Placentophagy: Therapeutic Miracle or Myth?,” was published in the Archives of Women’s Mental Health. It may be accessed here.

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