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The Doula Dish

Can Placenta Pills Give My Baby GBS?

Note: New information has become available since we first published this post. We are doing some research and will provide an update as soon as we're able. In the meantime, we recommend — as always — that you review your options with your care provider. If you have questions for us, please don't hesitate to contact us!

The CDC (Centers for Disease Control) is warning parents about the potential dangers of placenta encapsulation after a case of late-onset Group B Strep (GBS) in an infant whose mother was ingesting placenta pills. 

I am not here to reassure you that consuming your placenta is 100% safe or that you have nothing to worry about. Because while this is hopefully an isolated and rare occurrence, placenta encapsulation is not risk free, and you deserve to have all of the information before deciding what's best for your family.

Because the company that encapsulated the placenta in question picked up the placenta and removed it from the family's possession (and supervision), there is a lot we don't know.

We don't know:

  • how the placenta was handled during transportation or encapsulation
  • where the placenta was processed
  • whether the placenta the patient received was, in fact, her own
  • whether the placenta was heated to the necessary 130 degrees required to reduce bacteria, or if it was dehydrated at a temperature which could have instead facilitated bacterial growth (The company stated it was dehydrated at a temperature somewhere between 115 - 160 degrees.)

What we do know:

  • The placenta was removed from the family's possession for encapsulation.
  • The placenta was NOT steamed before encapsulation (processing without steaming is known as raw encapsulation or "the raw method").
  • The capsules tested positive for GBS.
  • The baby returned to the hospital with an active late-onset GBS infection 5 days after completing a full treatment of antibiotics for early-onset GBS infection.

This case reaffirms the importance of high standards when processing placentas. Currently, there are no industry wide standards or oversight for processing placentas, and an encapsulator with questionable standards, training, or methods can put your family at risk.

This is why Doulas of Des Moines' Postpartum Placenta Specialists adhere to the strictest industry standards of safety and quality to protect your family.

These standards include:

  • keeping the placenta in your possession so you have no question of how it was handled or whether the capsules you receive are from your own placenta
  • processing in your home, where you are able to have oversight of the entire process
  • thoroughly steaming the placenta before dehydration to reach an internal temperature of at least 160°F per safe food handling guidelines
  • adhering to strict food handling and OSHA standards to protect against cross contamination and potential blood borne pathogens (All of our Postpartum Placenta Specialists are certified in blood borne pathogens and food handling safety in addition to their extensive training in safe and quality placenta processing.)

We are dedicated to providing placenta encapsulation services in the safest way possible. The recent case of an infant's GBS infection linked to placenta pills reaffirms this dedication, and we will continue to do everything within our power and scope of practice to protect your family.

We welcome any questions you or your provider may have about our encapsulation methods and standards. Your safety and confidence are of the utmost importance to us.

EmmaRose BenneComment