Can a Group B Strep positive (GBS+) mom use placenta capsules?
In short, it depends on the method used as not all encapsulation providers use the same safety standards.
I am trained to prepare placenta capsules using a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method on file with FDA; a method that addresses the issue of bacterial pathogens. I have safely prepared placenta capsules for Group B Strep (GBS+) positive moms since 2011.
The TCM method has been used for postpartum healing as far back as 600 AD to establish homeostasis in the new mother. This method is in accordance with USDA standards for raw meat preparation and involves a heating portion.
During the cooking part of process, a placenta is heated to an internal temperature of at least 160°(F). At this temperature, pathogenic bacteria (i.e. E.Coli, GBS, Salmonella) are destroyed. We follow the same guidelines required of any regular food service establishment and our method (PBi method of preparation) is on file with the FDA and has been thoroughly inspected and approved by them.
I have served GBS+ moms since 2011 with excellent results and provide my service to new moms in Vermont and New Hampshire. A new mom’s (and her newborn) health and safety is my key concern.
Recent CDC Case
There is a case regarding the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) circulating the media found here, where a baby tested positive for GBS after mom took placenta capsules (this mom had never tested positive for GBS). So, how could this baby have developed a GBS infection from the mom taking placenta capsules?
Listed below are possible reasons for how baby may have developed a GBS+ infection from the capsules taken by a non-GBS infected mother; including a few discrepancies with the actual case study. Please note that the encapsulator who prepared the capsules in this CDC case must be set apart from my work, and other PBi-trained encapsulationists, because of reasons you will see here.
1) The placenta in the CDC case was prepared using the raw method, which means the encapsulator cleaned and dehydrated the placenta; bypassing the heating portion. Most dehydrators do not go above 160° (F) and the encapsulator in question dehydrated the placenta at 115°-159° F. This is dangerous as it does not allow the internal temperature of the placenta to reach safe temperatures for consumption. Bacteria cannot be destroyed at this temperature. I do not offer raw preparation for this very reason. It is also one of the reasons why I advocate that a new mom always be aware of who is handling her placenta and to inquire if they have proper certifications and food safety training.
2) I am a PBi-trained placenta encapsulationist and only encapsulate in the new mom’s home. The encapsulator in the CDC case offers a service where she picks up the placenta, processes it in her home kitchen, and returns it in capsules form to the new mom. The condition of transport is unknown as is the possibility of mix-up and cross contamination if this encapsulator was working with multiple placentas. Cross contamination or a mix-up may have been factors, since the mother in this case had not tested GBS+. The placenta of one of my clients never leaves their possession; which eliminates any chance of cross contamination. I also only work with one placenta at a time in the new mother’s home, where I sanitize all non-disposable material used according to OSHA standards.
3) I recommend storing placenta capsules in the freezer. The encapsulator in CDC case suggests keeping the (raw) pills at room temperature.
A few discrepancies with the actual case study:
- This inconclusive, single case study establishes no clear link between the baby becoming ill and placenta pills.
- The baby in the case study became ill shortly after birth. This is a fact that seems to be generally overlooked. The case study starts out by saying the baby was sick with early-onset GBS, having developed symptoms shortly after birth (this would be well before the commencement of encapsulation services and the placenta may still have been in the hospital or with the new mother). Five days after the completion of an eleven-day course of ampicillin and a stay in the NICU, the baby re-developed a group B strep infection.
- The report states that “transmission from other colonized household members could not be ruled out”, another fact that was generally overlooked.
Special Guidelines for Placental Consumption
Special circumstances that are not contraindications to placenta encapsulation are the following: STI’s including HSV, HPV, Chlamydia, Gonorrhea, meconium staining, GBS+, Gestation Diabetes, HELLP, PUPPS (though some women choose to wait a few weeks before starting pills), use of antibiotics in labor, cesarean, labor epidurals and spinal anesthesia, IV medications such as Nubain, Pitocin, and Mag Sulfate.
Contraindications to placenta encapsulation: Hepatitis, HIV, confirmed chorioamnionitis*, or other uterine infection.
*For suspected chorioamnionitis, neonatal sepsis, or other infection: the placenta should be kept frozen after being cultured per facility policies and order. If maternal/neonatal labs/placental culture are clear, the placenta can be released at discretion of clinician. https://placentaassociation.com/for-medical-providers/
Can I Get Group B Strep from Placenta Capsules? (Jodi Selandar, PBi)
May all bellies be happy!