Eating own placenta has no benefits for women

accreditation
Kourtney Kardashian from Shutterstock
Kourtney Kardashian from Shutterstock

Eating one's own placenta after giving birth may be trendy but there is no scientific evidence that women derive any benefits from it, according to researchers.

Most mammals eat placenta after birth

A review of 10 previously published studies showed no "human or animal data to support the common claims that eating the placenta – either raw, cooked or encapsulated – offers protection against postpartum depression, reduces post-delivery pain, boosts energy, helps with lactation, promotes skin elasticity, enhances maternal bonding or replenishes iron in the body," said the study by experts at Northwestern University.

Read: Newborn immune system

Nor was there any data on the potential risks of the practice, which has been touted by reality show star Kourtney Kardashian, among others.

"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," said co-author Crystal Clark, assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioural sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

"The studies on mice aren't translatable into human benefits."

The placenta is an organ that develops in the uterus during pregnancy to provide nutrients to the foetus and remove waste products from the infant's blood. Most mammals, including cats, eat it after birth.

Not based on science

The first documented accounts of women doing it in North America date back to the 1970s, according to the Northwestern study.

"The popularity has spiked in the last few years," Clark said.

"Our sense is that people aren't making this decision based on science or talking with physicians. Some women are making this based on media reports, blogs and websites."

The study was published in Archives of Women's Mental Health.

Read more:

Eating the placenta gaining popularity

Kim Kardashian's next baby may be her last one

Medication during pregnancy

Image: Kourtney Kardashian from Shutterstock

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
The ANC's leadership race is heating up. Who do you think will be elected party president at Nasrec in December?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has got it in the bag
7% - 716 votes
I foresee a second term for Cyril Ramaphosa
83% - 8430 votes
Don’t discount a Zweli Mkhize win
10% - 1005 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
17.82
-1.1%
Rand - Pound
20.21
+0.1%
Rand - Euro
17.61
+0.0%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.56
-0.8%
Rand - Yen
0.12
-0.7%
Gold
1,714.76
-0.7%
Silver
20.57
-2.4%
Palladium
2,255.32
-2.9%
Platinum
920.90
-1.4%
Brent Crude
91.80
+3.2%
Top 40
59,202
-1.1%
All Share
65,613
-1.1%
Resource 10
63,687
-1.4%
Industrial 25
79,239
-1.1%
Financial 15
13,961
-0.7%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE