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Eating placenta doesn’t prevent postpartum depression, B.C. study shows

CBC News with Jehannine Austin 02 May 2019

B.C. researchers are urging new moms to resist the trend of eating their placenta after childbirth, saying it’s risky and does not help with postpartum depression.

A new study from researchers at the B.C. Mental Health and Substance Use Services’ Research Institute and the University of B.C. followed 138 women with a history of mood disorders for a decade, and found no differences in depression, vitamin B12 levels, energy or ease of breastfeeding between mothers who’d eaten placenta and those who didn’t.

The genetic research, published Thursday in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada, comes amid a growing trend of placenta-eating, fuelled in part by claims of health benefits from celebrity moms like the Kardashians, Hilary Duff, Blac Chyna, and Mayim Bialik.

“When you ask women why they’re consuming their placenta, many will say that they think it will help improve their mood in the postpartum period,” lead researcher and medical geneticist Jehannine Austin said in a press release.

“But there has been no research evidence showing that it really works, and our new study adds weight to this idea.”

Last year, Health Canada issued a public warning about consuming products made from human placenta, saying that it can lead to infections in mothers or their babies. In the U.S., officials have reported on a case where an infant had to be hospitalized because of a bacterial infection linked to the placenta pills his mother had eaten.

“Given the health risks associated with consuming your placenta, and the absence of detectable benefits, we strongly recommend women do not, and instead look to other mental wellness resources,” Austin said.

She recommended that anyone who is concerned about postpartum depression should speak with their doctor or midwife, or a public health nurse.