During the summer of 2017 the CDC released a report that suggested a baby in Oregon got sick due to a mother taking her placenta in capsule form. This has caused some mothers considering placenta encapsulation to ask if this practice is safe.
As a certified placenta arts specialist through APPA, I want to encourage everyone to do their research and learn the facts. You can start with this rebuttal from my certifying organization:
Now that you understand what happened by reading the above information, let me share my take...
There are three issues with this case and the subsequent rush to say all encapsulation with GBS present is dangerous. Keep in mind 1 in 4 women test positive for GBS in late pregnancy. This means we are safely encapsulating placentas from moms with GBS colonization all the time.
1) The CDC did not conclude how the baby got reinfected. It might have been the placenta capsules, or from other family members, or the original infection wasn't sufficiently treated.
2) The encapsulator who made these capsules had information on her website that suggests she was not following proper protocols and did not dehydrate high enough to kill GBS bacteria.
3) The mother shouldn't have been consuming her capsules in the first place because if mom or baby has an active infection right after birth, placenta encapsulation is contraindicated.
If you read the original CDC "notes from the field" you'll see they mention heating above 130 degrees for at least 121 minutes is necessary to kill certain bacteria. In our practice, using the steamed/Traditional Method we cook the placenta for 40 minutes to reach an internal temperature of at least 160 degrees AND the placenta is then dehydrated at 145-160 degrees for 10-12 hours. With the Raw Start method we dehydrate for 12+ hours at 160 degrees.
In the case in Oregon it appears that the encapsulator was using a lower temperature for dehydration. How could that happen? Well, in order for a food to be considered truly "raw" it cannot be heated above 118 degrees. So, some poorly trained encapsulators dehydrate at this low temperature. However, when it comes to food safety, we cannot dehydrate that low. That is why we call our method "Raw Start." Technically it's not raw but we do this on purpose because safety is our number one concern. If a mom knows she is colonized with GBS she may want to consider the Traditional Method for that extra layer of protection that steaming provides.
As with all decisions about pregnancy, birth, your baby's care, and really all of life, it's important that each mother does her own risk/benefit analysis based on facts not opinions or fear. If anyone has any questions you can contact Anne at any time.