Mothers have been told by a medical body there is no known health benefits from eating their placenta.
The trend has gained popularity recently, as Kim Kardashian and other A-list celebs admitting to consuming the organ.
Advocates claim it can boost iron levels, improve milk supply and eradicate the risk of post-natal depression.
But the Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada strongly disagrees, and even said it could be harmful.
SOGC reviewed the evidence amid a growing trend to eat the placenta either raw, cooked, or in the form of a pill.
They published their warning – based on any studies that meet its standards – in the Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada.
In it, they wrote: ‘Despite the growing trend… there is no documented evidence of benefit for improved iron stores, mood, or lactation.
Dr Jocelynn Cook, chief scientific officer of SOGC, added that currently, ‘there is no strong evidence’ to suggest eating the placenta has benefits. Placentophagy is the practice of eating the organ. It forms during pregnancy to give oxygen and nutrients to the baby through the umbilical cord.
Mothers are normally allowed to take their placenta home if their intentions are made clear beforehand, but the guidelines may vary from hospital to hospital.
Advice is given on how to transport and store it at home hygienically – in a freezer without any other food – to reduce the possibility of it become infected with bacteria.
Various online sites describe how to cook and eat the placenta at home after thawing, while encapsulation companies have different protocols for collecting the placenta.
Placenta encapsulation preparations normally involve grinding the placenta down in its raw state or after being steamed and dehydrated. The cost is around £250.
The origins of the trend are unclear – especially among humans. Mammals have been known to do it but there are only theories as to why.
Scientists have long suspected that it may be because the animals are protecting their young from predators who smell blood.
Widely promoted claims to eat placenta are that it raises iron levels, micronutrients and hormones, boosts well-being and mood, and improves lactation.The SOGC reviewed four scientific studies and found the results, even if positive, were too weak in support for these claims.
SOGC said that in a study of the nutritional composition of placenta, there was hardly any detection of iron or minerals.
One study that evaluated the amount of hormones in the placenta could potentially reach a level of physiological impact if ingested.
However, once the placenta is handled, dehydrated and packaged into a pill, it is unclear is the hormones are biologically present anymore.
And poor handling of placentas and improper sterilization could lead to serious health implications for the mother and baby.
The report added: ‘Although other harm has yet to be documented… there is potential for transmission of bacterial, viral, or fungal pathogens to both mother and baby or close contacts.’
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed concerns about placental encapsulation in 2017 when a woman transferred a killer virus to her baby.
Group B streptococcus, a bacterial infection commonly found in the vagina, was present in the woman’s placenta.
The infection – which kills one baby a week in the UK – was transferred to the baby through breast milk when the mother took placental capsules.
Hilary Duff is one of the most recent celebrities to speak about her placenta eating habits on a podcast, the Dr. Berlin Informed Pregnancy, in November.
Duff said a smoothie with the powdered placenta as the star ingredient was the best she had ever had – and she planned to create ice cubes out of placenta, too.
She may have taken advice to Kim Kardashian, who has boasted of her good mood using placentophagy after more than pregnancy.
Speaking on her app in December 2015, E! reports that Kardashian said: ‘I really didn’t want the baby blues and thought I can’t go wrong with taking a pill made of my own hormones—made by me, for me.
‘I had great results and felt so energized and didn’t have any signs of depression! Every time I take a pill, I feel a surge of energy and feel really healthy and good.’
Coleen Rooney went one step further and had her placenta made into a face cream in February 2018.
She initially wrote on Twitter in January 2016: ‘Looking forward to starting my capsules.’