Correlation Vs. Causation: The Safety of Placenta Encapsulation

You may have seen the case report from the CDC making the rounds on social media lately claiming that a baby developed a dangerous Group B Strep (GBS) infection because the mother was ingesting placenta capsules. While this study seems to call into question the safety of placenta encapsulation, there are a few points to note: 

  1.  This was a single case.

    While it is terrible that a baby did become ill, there has only been one case of illness reported that may have been linked to placenta capsules. This is not a growing trend. 
     
  2.  Correlation does not automatically mean causation. 

    While the CDC has documented the illness is thought to be caused by the mother ingesting the placenta capsules, that has not been proven. The CDC themselves state that other family members could also be the carriers responsible, and the mother could have become infected after her initial negative test. 

    The mother's breastmilk tested negative for GBS. If the infection did not stem from the birth, it is unclear how the mother was then passing along GBS bacteria for baby to become infected. 

  3.  Placenta Encapsulation is an unregulated industry; it appears that the encapsulator from this study may not have followed proper safety procedures. 

    The CDC report states that the placenta in question was dehydrated at temperatures between 115-160 degrees Fahrenheit. If this is correct, then this placenta was not prepared in a safe fashion capable of killing off harmful bacteria. Temperatures must be held high enough and long enough to properly destroy any grown bacteria.

    If there were any signs of active infection at the time of birth or soon after (and generally at least mother or baby are presenting with fever or other signs of infection), then the placenta should never have been processed. It is never safe to consume placenta products with an active infection present. 

At Little Orchids, safety is our first priority. We adhere to strict training and certification standards to ensure a safe product.

So what do we do differently?

Strong Disinfectants- All of our non-disposable equipment pieces are cleaned and sanitized both before and after each use. They are washed, rinsed, soaked in a 1:10 bleach solution, allowed to air dry in a closed area, then wiped down with a hospital-grade disinfectant and allowed to completely air dry.  The hospital grade disinfectant that we use is a virucide, bactericide, tuberculocide, and fungicide.  It kills HIV, Hep- B, Hep-C, TB, MRSA and Norovirus and meets or exceeds blood-borne pathogen standards.

Disposable Protective Equipment - We use disposable equipment as much as possible to reduce the risk of cross contamination between clients. Disposable equipment that we use for each client includes gloves, plastic food aprons, hair nets, booties, safety glasses, cutting boards, and face masks.

Safety Screening- If there are signs of infection in mother or baby, then we do not perform an encapsulation. It's just not worth the risk. 

Scheduling Checks - We never have more than one placenta in our possession at any given time. We are very careful to not overbook so that there is no possible chance of accidental mix-ups. The placenta products you receive are 100% definitely made from your placenta. 

At Little Orchids, we want you to be completely confident in your decision to encapsulate with us. We welcome any and all questions you may have! You've grown your placenta for the last 9+ months, and it is something you plan to ingest; it is important to feel safe with who will be processing the placenta. 

Our encapsulator is a Certified Postpartum Placenta Encapsulation Specialist and is also a certified ServSafe Foodhandler and certified in Blood-bourne Pathogens training. We adhere to these stringent training protocols for a reason: it allows us to deliver a safe, quality product each and every time. 

If you have any questions about out placenta encapsulation services or our training standards, please contact us today