An increasingly large number of women are choosing to consume their placenta after birth.
Plenty of women preserve and eat their placenta after birth, but is it safe? The largest study to date on the topic says yes!


Call it a fad, trendy, or something crunchy-moms do, but an increasingly large number of women are choosing to consume their placenta after birth. Citing improved mood, increased energy levels, reduced pain, and even increased milk production, many women swear by the practice termed placentophagy.

However, the en vogue practice was recently called into question when a published report by the CDC alleged that a newborn had fallen ill as a result of placenta pills ingested by the infant's mother. According to the report, the infant had contracted Group-B Strep from the mother's breast milk. While there remained some inconsistencies and questions surrounding the report, the news went mainstream, causing many new moms to question the safety of the practice.

Related: Safety of Placenta Consumption Called Into Question By CDC

A new joint study by UNLV and Oregon State University should put worried mothers at ease. In the most extensive study of its kind, researchers found that infants born to mothers who ate their placenta were at no higher risk of neonatal disease or death than babies whose mothers did not consume their placenta. The results were published in the May issue of Birth.

The study of 23,242 postpartum women captured just how prevalent placentophagy has become, especially within the natural birth community. The data was extracted from the Midwives Alliance of North America Statistics Project, which predominantly serves women having home births or utilizing a birthing center.

Results of the study showed that nearly one-third, or 31.2%, of women consumed their placenta, with the vast majority of those women eating it in encapsulated form. According to researchers, there were no increased NICU admissions or deaths among infants whose mothers ate their placenta.

The study also examined the demographics of the women who practiced placentophagy and found that women who consumed the placenta after birth were more likely to be first-time educated mothers from a minority racial or ethnic group. They also tended to live in Western or Rocky Mountain states. Nearly 60% reported eating the placenta to ward off postpartum depression.

Related: American Afterbirth - A Documentary About Placenta Consumption

"Our findings were surprising given the recent guidelines recommending against placenta consumption, as well as the known risks of consuming uncooked or undercooked meat," lead author Daniel Benyshek said in a press release. "These new findings give us little reason to caution against human maternal placentophagy out of fear of health risks to the baby."

While the study deems placenta consumption safe, it did not examine the efficacy of the practice.