PORTLAND, Ore. -- Two Portland doctors put out a nationwide warning about mothers who ingest their own placenta after birth in the form of pills.
They put their concerns in a medical journal published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and released Friday.
In it they describe a Portland-area baby born last summer who got a nasty bacterial infection called Group B Strep.
The baby recovered at one hospital but then a week later came down with the same thing and was rushed to Randall Children's Hospital.
Doctor Sayonara Mato began trying to solve the puzzle. What was happening?
Then a doctor from the first hospital called her.
“She called me and said, 'Sayonara ,did you know that mother saved the placenta to be processed?' For what? To eat it. Okay. Tell me about it,” said Dr. Mato.
She did some quick research and found pictures showing placenta that is dried, ground up and put into pills. There is no FDA regulation on the processing of placentas.
Dr. Mato went to talk with the mother.
“So I went back to the room and said mom, any chance you save your placenta? Yes. What happened? Oh yes this company. All my girlfriends told me to do it --it was fantastic I won’t get postpartum depression--I’ll have more energy...my hormones will be better,” the doctor remembered her saying.
But what the mom did not know was that her placenta was infected with Group B Strep, which we all have in our guts but the mom was now adding extra doses by swallowing two pills three times a day.
The doctor believes the mom transferred the bacteria to her baby simply by handling and cuddling the infant causing both the first and second infection. It’s an infection that can cause significant harm, even death.
“It tends to cause meningitis if it’s not caught early. So when they survive, they survive by way of hearing loss, cerebral palsy, so yeah, this is a very aggressive bacteria. We don’t like it in babies at all,“ said Dr. Mato.
That’s why the doctor now wants moms to think twice before saving and ingesting their placenta.
“Until the day truly processing the placenta can ensure it is infection free, in my mind no mother should take that risk for the baby,” Dr. Mato said.