CDC Issues Placenta Pill Warning After Infant Strep Infection

Federal health officials are warning new mothers that consuming capsules made from placentas may place their newborns at risk of infection. 

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) published a case study in the most recent issue of it’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), indicating that side effects of placenta pills transfer B Streptococcus to infants through breast feeding, posing a serious and potentially fatal risk to newborns.

The report indicates that the Oregon Health Authority received a notification of a case of late-onset group B Streptococcus agalactiae bacteremia in an infant, who showed signs of respiratory distress and irritability. An investigation was opened into the case after the infant was treated at the hospital for B Streptococcus and released, then returned to the hospital just five days later for similar symptoms.

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The infant was transferred to a neonatal intensive care unit where blood and cerebrospinal fluid were obtained for testing. The results indicated the infant was infected with B Streptococcus for a second time, however the root cause of the infection remained unknown until investigators learned the mother had begun consuming capsules containing her dehydrated placenta. The placenta capsules were tested and found to contain similar strains of B Streptococcus to those found in the infant during the first and second hospital visits.

B Streptococcus is commonly found in the human body and typically does not cause any symptoms. However, it can be dangerous and even fatal to newborns and adults with chronic conditions, such as diabetes or liver disease.

Symptoms of the infection in infants often include fever, trouble feeding, and lethargy, while adults who are immunocompromised may get a urinary tract or blood infection, or pneumonia.

The practice of mothers consuming their placentas following child birth, known as placentophagy, has become increasingly popular over the last decade with studies indicating benefits of improved mood, increased energy levels and enhanced recovery from their recent pregnancy. However, no clinical trials have been performed to determine the benefits or risks associated with placentophagy.

According to the CDC report, no standards exist for processing placenta for consumption, and the common methods being used currently do not fully eradicate infectious pathogens when being prepared in capsule form.

Typically, the placenta is either cooked by heating it at 130 degree Fahrenheit for 121 minutes to reduce the potential for Salmonella bacterial counts, however, the process may not account for long enough heating to remove the risks of B Streptococcus.

The CDC is urging clinicians to inquire about the history of placenta ingestion in cases where late-onsets of B Streptococcus were reported to determine whether the encapsulation process may carry increased risks of infections.


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