Ore­gon in­fant ill­ness prompts warn­ing about pla­centa pills

Kuwait Times - - HEALTH & SCIENCE -

Health of­fi­cials are warn­ing new moms about the po­ten­tial dan­gers of tak­ing pills made from their pla­centa, af­ter an Ore­gon in­fant’s in­fec­tion was tied to the prac­tice. Trendy among some moth­ers, the prac­tice of eat­ing the pla­centa af­ter giv­ing birth is be­lieved by some to help with post­par­tum de­pres­sion, breast milk pro­duc­tion and en­ergy levels. It’s taken off in the last decade, touted by some celebrity moms and pro­moted on the in­ter­net. Now tens of thou­sands of US moms do it, ac­cord­ing to a rough es­ti­mate by re­searchers at the Univer­sity of Ne­vada, Las Ve­gas.

But in an un­usual re­port pub­lished Thurs­day, a group of doc­tors and health of­fi­cials say the cap­sules ap­pear to have caused an in­fant’s ill­ness in Port­land, Ore­gon, last fall. The au­thors said moms should avoid tak­ing them, not­ing that the mak­ing of pla­centa cap­sules is not reg­u­lated and there’s no guar­an­tee they are free of harm­ful germs. The re­searchers in­clude some lab sci­en­tists at the US Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol and Pre­ven­tion. A CDC spokes­woman said the agency hasn’t taken a for­mal po­si­tion on pla­centa pills, and that the warn­ing was the au­thors’ con­clu­sion.

Still, it’s per­haps the strong­est state­ment to date by any med­i­cal au­thor­i­ties against the prac­tice, said Sharon Young, a UNLV re­searcher who has stud­ied the prac­tice. She said there isn’t good med­i­cal ev­i­dence yet that it is ben­e­fi­cial. One UNLV study found pla­centa pills were a no bet­ter source of iron than dummy pills. “I’ve heard physi­cians say there’s no ben­e­fit to do­ing it, that it’s point­less. But I can’t re­mem­ber a state­ment so strongly ad­vis­ing against it, from a physi­cian or any­one,” she said. Last fall, the Ore­gon baby fell ill twice with a strep in­fec­tion. The first time, in­ves­ti­ga­tors be­lieve the mom passed an in­fec­tion to her child dur­ing birth.

Later, the mom started tak­ing pla­centa cap­sules. The child got sick again weeks later, and health of­fi­cials think the pills played a role. Tests found the bac­te­ria in the pla­centa pills. The mother had sent her pla­centa to a com­pany that of­fers to clean, slice and de­hy­drate it, then grind it and put it into gelatin cap­sules, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. It’s pos­si­ble the com­pany - which was not iden­ti­fied - failed to heat the pla­centa enough to kill germs, the au­thors said. — AP

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