Unhealthy fashion trend: the placenta is by no means "superfood"

Experts warn: placenta is in no way suitable as a "superfood"

Hollywood greats like Kim Kardashian have let the public know that they have eaten portions of the mother's cake after the birth of their offspring. Many non-celebrities are also enthusiastic about the new trend. Finally, the consumption of the placenta should go hand in hand with a multitude of positive effects. Health experts, however, advise mothers not to eat the placenta after birth.

New trend: consumption of the mother cake

More and more women want to take their own placenta with them after childbirth in order to eat it for "health reasons". Prominent women from the USA in particular use social and other media to share the form in which they have eaten their baby's mother cake. There are also instructions and even recipes for preparing the supposedly healthy placenta on many esoteric and alternative medicine websites. This tissue rejected after birth is even stylized by some to be a "superfood". But health experts advise mothers to stay away from it.

Health benefits of eating the placenta?

Many mammals eat their placenta after the young are born. So why should this be bad for mothers?

Followers of "placentophagy" assume that eating the mother cake has a number of positive effects.

The placenta is usually ground to powder, boiled or freeze-dried and taken in the form of capsules, pills or globules.

Due to its high nutrient and hormone content, it is said to provide better lactation for the nursing mother, to prevent postpartum depression and to bring new energy and a faster regression after pregnancy.

In addition, it should ensure a strong immune system and a beautiful complexion and compensate for an existing iron deficiency.

In addition, such capsules are used by some women to treat sleep problems, inflammation and scars, as well as against skin aging and to control the hormonal balance in menstrual disorders and menopausal symptoms.

No scientific evidence

However, experts point out that there is no scientific evidence for the alleged positive effects.

For example, a team of researchers from Northwestern University in Chicago (USA) evaluated ten studies on placentophagy and found that there are no benefits from eating the placenta.

As the scientists reported in the journal “Archives often Women's Mental Health” at the time, eating the mother’s cake was more likely to pose a health risk, since it was by no means sterile.

Gynecologist Alex Farr from the Medical University of Vienna also conducted research on the subject - which is still largely taboo. The results of his work have now been published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

High concentrations of heavy metals found
Farr, who conducted his research in a collaboration with the Weill Cornell Medical Center at New York Presbyterian Hospital in New York, said in a statement:

“From a medical point of view, the placenta is a waste product. Most mammals eat the placenta after birth, but we can only guess why they do so. After the placenta is genetically part of the newborn, eating the placenta borders on cannibalism. ”

The scientist sees no evidence of medical benefits. "On the contrary, because the suspected nutrients such as iron, selenium and zinc are not in sufficient concentrations in the placenta."

Farr continues: "However, high concentrations of heavy metals were found in the placenta that accumulate there during pregnancy."

Legal gray area

And above all, consumption, which usually takes the form of processed capsules or globules, also harbors a risk of infection.

"It wasn't until June 2017 that the federal agency for the Department of Health, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), officially warned of this trend because of a recent case," said Farr.

“The baby of a mother who had eaten placenta capsules suffered life-threatening blood poisoning from streptococci several times. These bacteria could be detected in the mother's placenta capsules and were probably transmitted from her to the child. ”

The gynecologist sees it as problematic that it is a legal gray area whether the wish of women to take the tissue with them is met.

This can only be clearly prohibited if follow-up examinations of the placenta appear medically necessary. In any case, Farr advises the young mothers to be made aware of the risk. (ad)

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