Health Canada is urging anyone who consumes products that contain human placenta to be aware of potential risks as not a single such product has received federal approval.
The agency says it’s been made aware of services offering to process or prepare placenta for human consumption, but is advising people that there is no scientific evidence to support the suggested health claims. Health Canada has not yet authorized a single product containing the human placenta.
The placenta is a temporary organ that provides oxygen and nutrients to a developing fetus inside the womb. In Western cultures, it is typically incinerated after childbirth, but is sometimes consumed after it is steamed, cooked, dehydrated and encapsulated.
Health Canada says the health claims associated with ingesting a placenta, including prevention of postpartum depression, increased energy levels and an increase in breast milk production, do not have the backing of any scientific research.
There are plenty of health risks to consider as well, including from the potential bacteria and viruses in the placenta. The preparation process can also introduce infectious agents.
Health Canada says the consumption of placenta can lead to infections in mothers or their babies and the risk increases among people who eat the placenta of another person. The agency is also worried the health claims will lead people with serious medical issues to avoid treatment.
In 2017, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that a baby had been sent to hospital for treatment of Group B streptococcus, found in the placenta pills the mother had been ingesting.
Health Canada has already sent several compliance letters individuals offering to make human placenta capsules and are encouraging Canadians to report any companies advertising such products.