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By Sarah Begley
June 5, 2015

New moms have recently taken a greater interest in consuming their placenta after birth, with celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian touting possible benefits from improving lactation and increasing skin elasticity to decreasing the risk of postpartum depression. But according to new research, there is no data to support any of these claims.

A Northwestern Medicine review of previously published studies showed that whether consumed raw, cooked, or in pill form, there are no proven, tangible benefits to consuming the placenta. Perhaps more importantly, the risk level of doing so is currently unknown, so moms may be putting themselves (and their babies, if they are breastfeeding) in harm’s way by consuming afterbirth.

The review’s lead author, Cynthia Coyle, said it is problematic that there are “no regulations as to how the placenta is stored and prepared, and [that] the dosing is inconsistent…Women really don’t know what they are ingesting.”

Coyle hopes this news will encourage doctors to help their patients make informed decisions.

Read next: Harvard Obstetrician Speaks on Safety of Giving Birth at Hospitals

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