A Response to the New CDC Report on Placenta Ingestion
A report was recently released by the CDC that raised some alarm bells for families considering placenta encapsulation/tincturing. I thought it would be a good idea to respond to the newest controversy about the safety of placenta consumption and GBS (group B strep infection).
This report centers on a case of a woman whose baby had a late-onset GBS infection, the source of which was traced back to the placenta capsules she was ingesting due to a GBS infection present in her placenta. (The CDC article also clearly states that researchers were unable to rule out other family members as possible sources of the infection to the baby.) In this case, the GBS culture that was done at 37 weeks was negative; however, the infant “developed signs of respiratory distress” after birth. Test results at that time yielded a positive diagnosis for GBS. The baby was treated and released 11 days later. However, the baby had a relapse of infection in the days following, which the researchers attributed to the placenta capsules (inconclusively).
It is unclear what the sanitation procedures were for the placenta specialists who handled her placenta, or if they knew that the baby had been ill after birth. It is very important to inform your placenta specialist if something like this happens. Your placenta specialist should be able to determine if there is a risk involved in ingesting the placenta. Your placenta specialist should also be able to tell you, very specifically, what their sanitation protocol is to prevent cross-contamination.
You can be assured that I follow strict food safety handling, bloodborne pathogen regulations, and safety guidelines and that I am meeting the gold standard in preparing placentas for consumption. I take sanitation very seriously, both for my clients and for myself and my home. I use hospital grade disinfectants on my work prep areas before and after preparing placentas and treat the tools I use with bleach and disinfectant. I am gloved, and change my gloves often, when I do this work. This is an absolute must for placenta preparation.
If you were tested positive for GBS at 37 weeks, your placenta should not be processed or ingested in any form. In this case, you can choose to take it home with you, bury it under a tree, or make a placenta print with it — but you should not consume it. (Though it is possible to have a piece of placenta removed, sent to pathology, and tested; and the rest of the placenta held in refrigerated temperatures to be processed pending the results of the test.)
If you tested negative for GBS, your placenta can be processed safely, assuming that you do not have any incidents in the immediate postpartum period like the case above.