Many women - celebrities included - eat their dried placenta in capsules after giving birth, despite no scientific-backed research of the benefits.
However a report by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention suggests these capsules have potentially caused a baby to fall ill.
“The placenta encapsulation process does not per se eradicate infectious pathogens; thus, placenta capsule ingestion should be avoided,” the report stated.
The report, published on 30 June, cited a case where a baby fell ill with late-onset group B Streptococcus (GBS).
At the time the baby was born, the GBS screening was negative, however shortly after birth the baby developed signs of respiratory distress. They were transferred to the neonatal intensive care unit where their blood was tested positive for GBS. The baby was discharged after taking antibiotics.
Five days later, the baby was taken to hospital because of irritability and was admitted to a second hospital.
After samples from the baby’s blood matched ones from the placenta capsules that the mother had consumed, scientists concluded that the most likely source of the infection was contact with the mother, who had passed along the bacteria to her baby.
The baby survived after receiving antibiotics.
The report stated: “In cases of maternal GBS colonisation, chorioamnionitis, or early-onset neonatal GBS infection, ingestion of capsules containing contaminated placenta increase an infant’s risk for late-onset neonatal GBS infection.”
Commenting on the study, Louise Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), told HuffPost UK: “This builds on previous research about the potential dangers of eating the placenta. This is not something that the Royal College of Midwives recommends.
“There is little or no evidence around any benefits for women eating their placenta. Indeed as this and previous studies suggest there may be potential dangers in doing so.
“As a result midwives will not advise women about eating their placenta because of this lack of evidence, and ultimately it must be the woman’s choice if she chooses to do so.
“Women should be aware that like any foodstuff, placentas can go off, so care will be needed about how they are stored. Women should also be aware of the lack of evidence around the benefits of eating the placenta in whatever form they are prepared and of the research suggesting potential dangers.”