Health Canada Notice regarding products that contain human placenta

In recent years there has been an increasing public interest in placentophagy, which is the consumption of the placenta following the birth of a child. Placenta has been known to be consumed raw, dehydrated or roasted.  It has also been encapsulated and made into tinctures.

Health Canada is aware that some mothers are choosing to have placenta processing services prepare their baby’s placenta for the mother to consume following the birth of their child. Eating placenta or taking placenta pills is a mother’s personal choice. However, the mother should understand there are potential risks for both herself and her baby and there is no scientific evidence that eating placenta or taking placenta pills is beneficial or effective.

Health products containing human placenta meet the definition of drug under the Food and Drugs Act.

  • Health Canada has not authorized any health products containing human placenta
  • Health Canada has not licensed any businesses in Canada to manufacture, package or distribute products containing human placenta
  • The advertising, manufacture and/or distribution of an unauthorized health product is not permitted under the Food and Drugs Act and its Regulations

Health Canada’s regulatory oversight extends to drugs derived from human placenta that are prepared by a third party, such as a company or processing service.  This oversight does not, however, extend to situations in which a baby’s placenta is prepared by the mother of the baby for her own personal use. 

There are potential risks associated with consuming products derived from human placenta, some of the more serious being potential bacterial (e.g. such as group B streptococcus) and viral contamination (e.g. hepatitis, HIV etc.) of the placenta.

When a mother ingests placenta pills containing bacteria or viruses, this may lead to an infection of the mother and/or her baby. Depending upon the type of infection, this could become serious or, in the most grave of cases, even life-threatening.

There is no scientific evidence to support claims that health products containing human placenta help prevent postpartum depression, increase energy levels, or increase breast milk production. Health Canada is concerned that anecdotal reports and unsupported claims might lead some mothers with serious health issues to delay seeking medical treatment while experimenting with health products containing human placenta.

Health Canada continues to monitor this issue and will take action when circumstances are identified which present safety concerns.

What consumers should do

Consumers should consider the potential risks of consuming human placenta products and be aware of unsubstantiated health claims surrounding these products. Consult with your health care professional if you have consumed human placenta products and have health concerns.

Read product labels to verify that health products have been authorized for sale by Health Canada. Authorized health products have an eight-digit Drug Identification Number (DIN), Natural Product Number (NPN) or Homeopathic Drug Number (DIN-HM). You can also check whether products have been authorized for sale by searching Health Canada’s Drug Product Database and Licensed Natural Health Product Database.

Report adverse events from health products to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1 866 234 2345, or by reporting online, by mail or by fax.

Report complaints about health products or advertising to Health Canada by calling toll-free at 1 800 267 9675, or complete an online complaint form.

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