Can a Group B Strep positive (GBS+) mom use placenta capsules? In short, it depends on the type of preparation method used.
NOT ALL ENCAPSULATIONISTS USE THE SAME SAFETY STANDARDS
I am trained to prepare placenta in capsule form using a Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) method that is on file with the 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 a new mother. This method is in accordance with USDA standards for raw meat preparation and involves a heating portion.
During the cooking part of the process, the 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. I follow the same guidelines required of any regular food service establishment and my method (PBi method of preparation) is on file with the FDA and has been thoroughly inspected and approved.
I have served GBS+ moms since 2011 with good results and my service has been provided to going on 400 mothers through Vermont. The health and well-being of a new mother and her new baby is of utmost 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 the mom took placenta capsules (this mom had not tested positive for GBS). So, how could the baby develop a GBS infection from the mom taking placenta capsules?
Listed below are possible reasons how that 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.
Note: the Encapsulator preparing the capsules in this CDC case must be set apart from my work, and that of other PBi-trained Encapsulationists, due to reasons shown below.
1) The placenta in the CDC case was prepared using a raw method. This 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 because 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 reason.
2) I am a PBi-trained placenta Encapsulationist and encapsulate in the new mom’s home. The Encapsulator in the CDC case offers a service where she picks up the placenta, processes in her home kitchen, and returns it in capsules form to 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+.
3) I recommend that new mothers store their placenta capsules in freezer. The Encapsulator in the CDC case suggests keeping (raw) capsules 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 “transmission from other colonized household members could not be ruled out”, another fact 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/
Is your Unborn Baby at GBS+ Risk
Prevent GBS+ During Pregnancy
Placenta Encapsulation in VT
Can I Get Group B Strep from Placenta Capsules? (Jodi Selandar, PBi)
May all bellies be happy!