An obstetrician and gynaecologist, Akinsola Akinde, has advised women against consuming their placentas, saying there is no medical evidence to support its health benefits to new mothers.
Mr Akinde, who is the former chairman of the Society of Gynaecology and Obstetrics of Nigeria, advised in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Monday.
The act, known as placentophagy, is the practice of consuming the placenta after birth, and it is gaining popularity among more women after childbirth.
The practice is gaining wide acceptance as celebrities, social media influencers, and others post their experiences online.
Some women opt to drink the placenta in a fruit smoothie within hours of giving birth, while some eat it raw, cooked, dehydrated and encapsulated into pills for use over time.
Human placentophagy is touted by some as a treatment for postpartum depression to reduce fatigue, boost milk supply, and replenish vital nutrients.
Dr Akinde, however, said that the proposed health benefits were not scientifically proven, adding that they were made up to justify the act.
“Medically, the placenta is a waste product because they are often colonised with bacteria. Many are infected.
“So, it is not advisable to eat something that is potentially teeming with bacteria, which may even be pathogenic.
“Some women may want to jump on the placenta-eating bandwagon because someone they know or respect claims it’s “the best thing ever.
“I will advise them to exercise caution till scientific evidence proves that placentophagy is beneficial to human health,” he said.
He said that the placenta does have protein and fats but stressed that those nutrients could be found in a healthy diet.
Dr Akinde stressed that placentophagy could be harmful to the mother and baby, noting that health care providers should be consulted about proven alternatives for postpartum and other concerns.
Also, a general physician, Tunji Akintade, said that placentophagy was strange to the African culture, whose practice was to bury the placenta after childbirth.
He added that government policies dictate that the placenta should be bagged and disposed of as medical waste, adding that keeping it for hours breeds infection.
Dr Akintade warned that not all trends seen online or in western society should be imitated, stressing that some could pose a danger to health.
Also, the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the intake of placenta capsules should be avoided owing to inadequate eradication of infectious pathogens during the encapsulation process.