Pla­centa pills don’t work, study sug­gests

Tehran Times - - SCI / MED -

Eat­ing the pla­centa af­ter birth of­fers no ben­e­fit to new moth­ers, a new study sug­gests.

Re­search in Ne­vada found the in­creas­ingly com­mon prac­tice of con­sum­ing cap­sules made from the or­gan in the weeks fol­low­ing birth did al­most noth­ing to im­prove ma­ter­nal fa­tigue or ward off de­pres­sion.

The work did show that in­gest­ing pla­centa cap­sules pro­duced small but de­tectable changes in hor­mone con­cen­tra­tions, but it is not known whether this has any ben­e­fi­cial ef­fect.

Ad­vo­cates of the prac­tice point to wide­spread ma­ter­nal pla­cen­tophagy - eat­ing the pla­centa - in the an­i­mal king­dom, how­ever of­fi­cial bod­ies such as the Royal Col­lege of Mid­wives do not rec­om­mend it, say­ing their is no ev­i­dence of any ben­e­fit.

Pla­centa cap­sules

The new study in­volved 12 women who took pla­centa cap­sules and 15 who took placebo pills in the weeks af­ter giv­ing birth.

Re­searchers tested the ef­fi­cacy of pla­centa cap­sules in pro­mot­ing var­i­ous health ben­e­fits, in­clud­ing stem­ming the on­set of post­par­tum ‘baby blues’ and de­pres­sion of new moth­ers.

The re­sults of the study, pub­lished in the on­line jour­nal Women and Birth, found that such claims are not clearly sup­ported.

How­ever the work did show that in­gest­ing pla­centa cap­sules pro­duced small but de­tectable changes in hor­mone con­cen­tra­tions that show up in a mother’s cir­cu­lat­ing hor­mone lev­els.

In­creas­ing num­ber of pri­vate firms are of­fer­ing to con­vert women’s pla­cen­tas into cap­sules, some for around £200.

They ad­ver­tise a range of ben­e­fits in­clud­ing re­turn­ing the uterus to a pre-preg­nancy size sooner, and bet­ter weight man­age­ment.

In 2016, the Ne­vada team re­leased a study show­ing that con­sum­ing en­cap­su­lated pla­cen­tas was not as good of a source of iron as pro­po­nents had sug­gested.

Se­nior au­thor Pro­fes­sor Daniel Benyshek sug­gested that both ad­vo­cates and scep­tics alike may point to th­ese new re­sults.

He said: “Pla­cen­tophagy sup­port­ers may point to the fact that we did see ev­i­dence that many of the hor­mones de­tected in the pla­centa cap­sules were mod­estly el­e­vated in the pla­centa group mums.

Ro­bust dif­fer­ences

“Sim­i­larly for scep­tics, our re­sults might be seen as proof that pla­cen­tophagy doesn’t ‘re­ally work’ be­cause we did not find the type of clear, ro­bust dif­fer­ences in ma­ter­nal hor­mone lev­els or post­par­tum mood be­tween the pla­centa group and placebo group that th­ese types of stud­ies are de­signed to de­tect.”

Last year Coleen Rooney drew at­ten­tion to the prac­tice when she tweeted im­ages of her pla­centa pills.

De­fend­ing as pla­cen­tophagy “not gross or witchcrafty”, she said: “I was never de­pressed or sad or down af­ter the baby was born, so I’d highly sug­gest it to any preg­nant woman.”

In Oc­to­ber an Aus­trian ex­pert con­demned eat­ing pla­cen­tas as “es­sen­tially can­ni­bal­ism”.

Dr. Alex Farr, from Vi­enna Uni­ver­sity, said the or­gan was ge­net­i­cally part of the baby.

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