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  • Placentas are strange alien-looking pancake-shaped life-support organ for a fetus, but once that

  • baby is born... I'm hungry, DIBS!

  • There are people out there who eat the placenta after birth. Some are celebrities, some are

  • just weirdos like you and me, and some are completely normal. But placentophagy, as it's

  • known in the scientific world, doesn't seem to have the benefits claimed by the people

  • who eat it. Look, science can take the fun out of anything, so why not this too?

  • Humans are among a few animals who DON'T practice placentophagia -- almost all land mammals

  • eat the afterbirth. And that fact is a common one people cite when they DO eat placentas.

  • Though the ones who don't are pretty telling... chimpanzees and scavengers don't, and a study

  • of 179 cultures found basically zero evidence of placentophagy in any historic or prehistoric

  • human cultures! I mean, maybe during a famine, sure, but otherwise, nah. Why? A study in

  • Ecology and Food Nutrition says, "[If] placentophagia is not a biologically determined behavior

  • in humans, we should assume that there must be a good adaptive reason for its elimination."

  • Placentas aren't some purple sack of miracles. Theyre part of the fetal life-support system,

  • which also includes the amniotic sac and umbilical cord. The placenta attaches to the uterus,

  • allowing the transfer of nutrients and oxygen from the mother's blood to the fetal blood

  • -- keeping them separate. It protects against bacterial -- not viral -- infections and passes

  • antibodies to the baby creating three months of immune response at birthlike a 90-day

  • warranty! It also produces pregnancy hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and hCG. After

  • the birth, the placenta is ejected, in what's called the afterbirth.

  • The placenta is a life-support filter, so it can contain high levels of bacteria, selenium,

  • cadmium, mercury, or lead. It can also still contain many of the hormones for its fetal

  • charge which can cause any number of effects if ingested. And yet, People claim eating

  • their placentas balanced their hormones, kept them from developing postpartum depression,

  • boosted their energy, helped them regain nutrients, or stopped their bleeding immediately after

  • birth! The most scientific sounding research has to do with pain relief after birth. A

  • 1986 study from the University at Buffalo found an opioid-enhancing molecule in amniotic

  • fluid and in the placenta which promoted quote "maternal behavior" in RATS, and another study

  • also from U-B in 2005 found placentophagia may have analgesic -- or pain killing -- properties

  • for rats. One researcher believes, some of the claimed natural energy buzz and the possible

  • lessening of the baby blues COULD have to do with the hormones in the placenta, but

  • again, there's no evidence whatsoever either way; and if that's the case, it would be better

  • to treat the postpartum depression than eat an organ that may not do so.

  • In the end, though, there's just not really any new double-blind controlled studies on

  • placental ingestions. There's a LOT of anecdotal information out there and a TON of media attention,

  • but it's not a common practice, one hospital in DC found of 3,500 annual births only two

  • mothers took their placenta home in a year.

  • So there's no hard evidence to support whether it's bad OR good. If you DO go for it, just

  • remember it's meat, and bacteria can infect meat; so eating it raw can be dangerous. It

  • is meat grown even if it's grown by a human fetus, after all. Anyway, if you go for it;

  • you do you, people.

Placentas are strange alien-looking pancake-shaped life-support organ for a fetus, but once that

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