I wanted to post this because I get asked about it a lot. Over the summer, the CDC shared a warning against placenta encapsulation, because of a very unfortunate incident where a newborn was infected with Group B Strep, possibly due to infected placenta capsules taken by the mother. I’m sure that many of you came across this article on Facebook in various parenting and pregnancy groups that you follow. Given the concerns that this case brought to light, you are absolutely right to be concerned, and so are your providers. Please read and share this post so that people's fears and biases can be put to rest!
If you hire a thoroughly and professionally trained placenta specialist (such as myself), this will not be a concern for you. There are several things going on in that case that cause me to pause.
First and foremost, the doctor should never have released this placenta from the hospital, because the mother wasn’t just GBS positive—she actually had a fever and infection outbreak during labor. Normally, when a mother is GBS positive (EXTREMELY common, by the way), drugs to prevent an outbreak are given intravenously over the course of her labor. In some rare instances, an infection can still occur. Perhaps her labor was fast and she wasn’t able to receive all the drugs she would have otherwise. The circumstances were not in the article. But if that is the case, the physician and nurses should not have allowed the infected placenta to leave their facility. If, for whatever reason, this was overlooked, the placenta specialist should always ask the client if there was anything unusual about the labor, specifically a fever. I ask every client this. If those first two protocols had been followed, this never would have happened.
Another issue is that the article says that they cannot rule out reinfection from household contact. Given that GBS colonization is transient and present in both vaginal secretions and the bowel, it would be a very common scenario.
Even if the mother had not had an outbreak of infection during labor, an encapsulator should ensure that the placenta reaches an internal temperature of 160 degrees. The article says that the range for these capsules was 115 to 160. That is too much room for error. If she had used a consistent dehydrating temperature of at least 160 degrees, the bacteria may have been killed—although still, a fever and GBS infection is ALWAYS a contraindication for placenta encapsulation.
Finally, this article implies that GBS can be transmitted via skin, which is fairly impossible according to the March of Dimes and other sources. So handling capsules would not result in transmission to the baby.
There are many, many errors and assumptions from this case study of one unfortunate and isolated incident that do not support their broad caution against all placenta consumption.
Read the reassuring article below.