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Eat All the Placenta You Like, but It's Not Making You Healthier

Moms know best, but scientists know better.
June 5, 2015, 6:15pm
Placenta on a plate via Flickr user Moppet65535

My mom is a birth doula, which is kind of like a hippie version of a midwife but she doesn't actually catch the kid when it pops out. A lot of the time when she goes to the hospital with one of her clients, they ask her to save the placenta. That means my mom has to slop the placenta into a tupperware and bring it home for safe keeping, until the new family is out of the hospital. The new parents then do various ceremonies with the placenta, like eating it or burying it under a young tree in their backyard so their child's spirit becomes inextricably linked with the sapling. One time, my mom lost someone's placenta and the running joke was that my stoned friend scrambled it in his eggs by accident. She probably just set it on the roof of her Toyota Highlander and forgot it up there.

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My buddy didn't actually eat the placenta, but plenty of people do, and not just the weird granola freaks who hire my mom. Khloe Kardashian famously served up a steaming plate of placenta to her family a few years ago and a guy ate placenta tacos and wrote about it for the Guardian. Unfortunately, some scientists at Northwestern University released a study yesterday that said that eating placenta doesn't actually have any miraculous health benefits—it may even lead to unknown risks.

Another problem, according to the study's lead author, Cynthia Coyle, is that there are "no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared."

"Women really don't know what they are ingesting," Coyle said.

The study will probably come as a blow to my mother's future clients, who have dreams of placenta smoothies or a delicious placenta frittata. Luckily, the study said nothing about the metaphysical ramifications of fusing your new son's soul with a tree by fertilizing it with his placenta, so feel free to keep that up.

Want Some In-Depth Stories About Placenta?

1. Hospital Regulations Are Forcing Women to Steal Their Own Placentas 2. Girl Eats Placenta 3. Placenta Smoothies Aren't a Bloody Joke, People 4. Not Your Mom's Placenta

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