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Science

Placenta Eating Offers No Benefit To Mom 110

Dave Knott writes: While some celebrity moms swear by it and have made it trendy, a new study says that consuming the placenta after birth offers women and their babies no benefit. In fact, the practice — known as placentophagy — may even pose unknown risks to mothers and infants, according to a team from Northwestern University in Chicago, who pored over the accumulated research on the issue. They found no data to support that eating the placenta — either raw, cooked or in pill form — protects against postpartum depression, reduces pain after childbirth, increases a woman's energy, helps with lactation, improves mother-child bonding, replenishes iron in the body, or improves skin elasticity. The researchers also said that there are no studies examining the risks associated with eating the placenta, which acts as a filter to absorb and protect fetuses from toxins and pollutants.
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Placenta Eating Offers No Benefit To Mom

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  • Disgusting... (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Not because animals does it that it means it's good.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 06, 2015 @01:57AM (#49854891)

      ... they need to conceal their where about, to leave no trace of their young ones from being hunted down

      As for humans ... they are simply stupid

      • by hey! ( 33014 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @12:12PM (#49856983) Homepage Journal

        ... and wild animals don't waste valuable calories or protein. It's not that the nutrients in the placenta are *especially* good for you, it's just that nutrients period are good for you and hard to come by.

        I once went on a winter hike with a park ranger, and he identified some tracks in the snow as coyote tracks. So I naturally asked how he could tell it was a coyote and not a dog being taken for a walk. The answer was that domestic dogs are so well-fed they waste energy running all over the place; coyotes are always on the edge of starvation so they nearly always travel in a perfectly straight line.

      • Wrong. Not insightful at all, plenty of residue remains that is evidence of birth even after placenta eaten. Never seen it, eh, city slicker? 8D

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Nope. Animals don't need to conceal a damned thing when they give birth in a barn or other safe place. When you see a live birth it's obvious that theory doesn't hold a drop of water - try taking away the placenta(s) from your bitch or cow or WHY and see if the "concealment" shit convinces her. There are obvious reasons why the placenta gets eaten. Any wild mother knows that newborns are exceptionally easy prey and leaving a placenta behind would be evolutionarily more sensible than eating the thing, like l

    • by guises ( 2423402 )
      Is that seriously the logic here? "I saw some random animal doing it, so I'm going to do it too." Cats eat vomit. Rabbits eat shit. (Technically slightly different from their regular shit. Not enough to matter to these unnamed celebrities I'd wager.)

      ::Sigh:: Fine, whatever. It's probably healthier than most diet fads.
      • I don't know about vomit but eating some kinds of shit seems promising.
        • This is actually a thing, in case you didn't know. It's just that the stars are having the poop "transplanted" by enema, rather than by eating it:
          http://thefecaltransplantfound... [thefecaltr...dation.org]

          • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            That's completely different from eating shit. Transplanting someone else's gut bacteria into your's is a medical procedure that can help or cure many things. Now if those stars are doing it for those reason or not, who knows.

            Many animals eat shit because they can smell some undigested food in it and their immune systems can handle it. Human immune systems don't handle it as well nor and we have access to plenty of non-shitty food.

          • This "Yellow Tea" has been done in China since about the 4th century [washingtonpost.com]. It's used by people who aren't stars and have tried powerful antibiotics...
      • I think he was roughly trying to say "just because animals do it doesn't mean it's good," in which case it sounds like you are in agreement.
      • Cats eat vomit. Rabbits eat shit.

        And humans pay big money to eat cat shit [wikipedia.org].

        (No, civets are not true felines, but they are in the same superfamily, which is probably close enough for the purposes of this discussion.)

        • It's not really "cat shit." They're "cat like" but are not in the felidae order but are in the feliformia which includes felidae (cats) and hyena and mongoose. Wikipedia states that they are in the order viverridae (a suborder of felifornia, cousins of felidae but are not felidae, which are all obligate carnivores).

      • by fruviad ( 5032 )

        Cats do not eat vomit. Dogs do, but not cats. Cats merely produce large quantities of it (helpfully heading for the nearest rug whenever the mood is upon them.)

    • Re:Disgusting... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @02:18AM (#49854947)

      Animals do it because, as long as they can digest it, it's a significant source of nutrition right after massive energy and biomass expenditure.

      Humans do not suffer from lack of other sources for replenishment as animals do. There's no need to go hunting for prey to get food after birth.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        It also keeps the birth den cleaner and safer from predators.

      • Well it might save a trip to the supermarket at least.
      • > Animals do it because, as long as they can digest it, it's a significant source of nutrition right after massive energy and biomass expenditure.

        Even many animals which cannot digest it (herbivores) consume it. It's not to get nutrition but to reduce odors which attract predators. It's their way of picking it up so they can carry and defaecate it away from where their offspring are.

      • Humans do not need to eat placenta, because there is a supply of Jello at the Hospitals, I recommend the Lime-green to avoid whatever is in that Red die these days.

  • obPennyArcade (Score:4, Informative)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @01:34AM (#49854817) Homepage Journal
    Oddly, Penny Arcade has this covered. [penny-arcade.com]
  • by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @01:36AM (#49854827)

    Eat the baby too, and get *all* your nutrients back.

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

      Nope. A lot of them are still expended on actions that don't go into the baby itself. You'll certainly get some of them back, which is why some species do in fact engage in eating some of their offspring, typically ones they identify as too weak to survive.

      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        I'd say any offspring eaten by its parent was, by definition, too weak to survive ;)

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          By that definition, any offspring is weak to survive in most species, as they have no means to avoid such a fate at birth.

  • Actually it has some medical effects.

    The question is whether the hormonal level modifications are beneficial or not. Obviously, *cooking* the placenta would denature the proteins involved, so the way it's typically practiced among modern humans (which involves cooking) is clearly not beneficial, other than as a source of nutrients and heavy metals.

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pu... [nih.gov]

    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @02:27AM (#49854963)

      Except that rats have a different fertility cycle from humans. Which makes direct hormonal comparisons pointless.

      They are also known to eat their own feces for nutrition. Which makes their gastrointestinal tract quite different.

      Concluding presence of direct "medical effects" from these two key differences between species based on a rat study and ignoring the human study is frankly idiotic.

      • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

        Not really, because hormones are cross-species, and do much the same jobs in every organism that has 'em. We use hormones from various livestock to treat human hormone deficiency; we can be affected by plant estrogens as if they were animal estrogens. Studying hormone interactions in rats creates a good starting point for where we should study human hormone metabolism, but at a vastly accelerated rate (you can examine the hormones during rat births every few weeks; you have to wait 9 months to examine horm

        • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

          You debunk your own argument when you clearly agree with me by stating that it's merely a "good starting point".

          As human study has shown, such effect is not present in humans. A good starting point that results in a study that shows that connection does not exist in another species with different reproduction cycle.

          • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

            Actually, all it showed was that the effect wasn't present at the dosage used. The rats are eating the entire placenta. If a human consumed an entire placenta, the dosage would be different, and you might see a quite different physiological response. Underdosing a hormone can actually have a paradoxical effect (low dose can be just enough to make the body think it doesn't need to manufacture any of its own, so the serum level of that hormone can actually go *down*).

            • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

              So you are once again ignoring the facts that we have different:

              1. Gastrointestinal act.
              2. Reproduction cycle.

              Blind assumption of same effect regardless of the fact that placenta would enter a different gastrointestinal tract in different species that have a different reproduction cycle and then have the exact same impact is idiotic, especially in the face of different study on that very species suggesting no such effect exists.

              • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                Not blind assumption; understanding of biochemistry and hormone systems. Hormones have broadly the same effects across species, and dosage matters.

                What would be a lot more informative is an analysis of what hormones are found in a human placenta, and in what quantity and concentration. But "We tried a microdose and nothing happened" isn't exactly definitive.

                • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                  Hormones have similar effects provided you test them on similar systems.

                  Systems involved in this case (reproductive system, digestive system) are wildly different.

                  • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                    Since the study compared eating placentas to eating placentas, what does that have to do with anything? What was goofy was the relative dosage per body weight.

                    Just because you swallow the hormone doesn't mean it necessarily acts on the wrong organ system. It will still behave the same in the body, since it can't do otherwise (it can only mate up with its own receptors). Otherwise we wouldn't have oral hormone replacement therapy (or oral contraceptives, for that matter), which is commonly used for estrogen,

                    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                      Let's get to the basics then, and see where it is that we differ:

                      1. Do you understand that "eating placenta" means it entering a digestive tract and being digested by it?

                      y/n?

                      2. Do you understand that said tracts are wildly different?

                      y/n?

                      3. Do you understand that as such, they are not directly comparable to one another in absorption rates of various nutrients?

                      y/n?

                      4. Do you understand that while hormones are largely shared among most mammals, their effects vary wildly depending on how specific systems in each

                    • by Reziac ( 43301 ) *

                      My background is biochemistry/microbiology. I do grok this stuff. I read a lot of material from JCEM and other professional sources. If this isn't relevant, explain why oral hormones work across species. How much is absorbed varies somewhat, but that's a dosage detail (frex, the oral thyroid dose for a dog is 10x that for a human by weight because dogs don't absorb it as efficiently; however once absorbed by either human or dog it still does the same job, and it doesn't matter if it started life in a pig or

                    • by Luckyo ( 1726890 )

                      Hormones work across species in varying ways. We share hormones like we share most biological components of our bodies across mammals simply due to the fact that due to our evolution, we share most of our genetic code. We also share most internal organs and proteins.

                      Where we differ is how these organs specifically work, as a part of the relevant processes. Digestive system is a great example here - while we mostly have similar digestive systems, they differ both due to gut flora types and species, and not j

    • "Oestrogen injections or bovine or human placenta in the diet had no effect." -- In addition to what the other commenter posted this tidbit I quoted here is quite important: humans are eating human placenta, not rat placenta, so the whole comparison is null and void from the get-go. You simply cannot deducate that "hey, rats eating rat placenta cause hormonal levels to change, therefore humans eating human placenta must do the same!"

  • ...after thousands of years of getting out of the trees, getting away from the savanna, getting out of the caves, civlization, tool-making, science and culture ? Disappointing, to say the least.
  • Really? And this is surprising to who?

  • Fava beans and a nice chianti, people!
  • Don't slag it off. Think about the husbands. And the joy they feel when the nutcase they fell in love with performs this revolting rite.
    • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

      I just think the word 'celebrity' needs to be replaced with the words 'narcissistic egoist', do that and it starts to make a whole lot more sense.

  • by jcr ( 53032 ) <jcr.mac@com> on Saturday June 06, 2015 @04:07AM (#49855171) Journal

    What more is there to say?

    -jcr

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I was going to point out that pregnant women often have hemorrhoids, and why not make nutritional use of those as well, letting others deal with the ew factor...

    The Article mentions Doulas, a new word to me. To put it kindly, a Doula is a paid Assistant during the Birthing Process, whose main job seems to be to offer emotional support, and recipes. They are not allowed to deal with _any_ medical issues, as they aren't required to have _any_ medical training. (Midwives are quite different. Not my cup of

  • by zephvark ( 1812804 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @05:43AM (#49855349)

    Straight-out weasel wording, your sign that there is no information here, let alone "news for nerds". Or did placenta-eating become a nerd thing while I wasn't looking? /hands in nerd card

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This is far too subjective. If the mother enjoys eating placenta with some fava and a nice chianti, then I argue that she benefitted from having nice meal.

  • "may even pose unknown risk"

    Well that is a throw away statement. You can say that about any thing, any time, any place.

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @07:13AM (#49855601)
    Livers, kidneys. People eat filters all the time.
  • Placentas. Is there nothing they can't do?
  • ... is crunchy and goes good with ketchup.

    Oh wait, that me the dragon was talking about right before I managed to get away. Forgive me for mis-remembering, it was a very busy and not-very-pleasant day.

  • by nitehawk214 ( 222219 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @11:47AM (#49856817)

    How about this benefit: you can say to your child: "If you don't settle down, I will eat you. I have done it before."

  • The crushing smugness as you preen around the other plebeian Moms who obviously don't care enough about their children is the benefit.

    (This is a joke, yet not a joke).

  • Devil's Advocate (Score:4, Informative)

    by briancox2 ( 2417470 ) on Saturday June 06, 2015 @06:36PM (#49858719) Homepage Journal
    Ok, so I just want to clarify here. I have no feeling one way or the other about this activity.

    They are saying that there is no KNOWN benefit to this practice and there COULD BE bad consequences.
    So how is that different than saying that there COULD BE benefits but there are no KNOWN bad consequences?

    Aren't they really just reporting "We don't know one way or the other"? Except, as usual, the reporting has a slant injected into it.
  • rooted in nonsense. it's new age junk science posing as biological imperative. These people are rancidly stupid with more money than sense.

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