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For the record

Response to suggestions that placenta pills stop postnatal depression Image

Response to suggestions that placenta pills stop postnatal depression

Today, newspapers are reporting claims that mothers can stop postnatal depression by taking pills made from dehydrated placenta.

"A growing list of celebrity mums including Kim Kardashian believe taking the pills can stop postnatal depression, boost energy and balance hormones." From The Daily Mirror, Wednesday 27 January 2016

"It has been claimed that eating the placenta can improve energy levels, help with the production of breast milk, boost iron levels and make it easier for new mothers to shed their baby weight." From The Daily Mail, Wednesday 27 January 2016

Catherine Collins, spokesperson for the British Dietetic Association, says: 

“Fresh placenta contains nutrients, enzymes and hormones essential for life- but it also contains environmental toxins filtered out from reaching the baby, but which remain in the placenta - substances we have no need to add back to our diet. Placenta enzymes and hormones are proteins and so will possibly be destroyed in the preparation process, and also by our own digestive processes. There is a real lack of evidence to support most of the health claims made. Some research cited dates back to 1918 – a period of time at the end of the First World War when diets were nutritionally inadequate for the masses and so placenta may well have helped improve a meagre protein and iron deplete diet. As a dietitian today I’d place placenta-phagy as wacky and whimsical that offers only unproven benefits to the new mum.

"What concerns me the most is the suggestion new mums can avoid or reduce the risk of postnatal depression by taking placenta pills. There is no robust evidence to support this, and as both a dietitian and a mum of two, I’d recommend that new mums who feel down or depressed should talk to their midwife or health visitor, healthcare professionals able to help new mums cope with their feelings and the stress of a new baby.”

Document type: For The Record

Published: 27 January 2016

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