Health Canada is cautioning mothers and others who may be consuming human placenta preparations about potential risks for themselves and their babies.
The federal department says consuming human placenta could lead to bacterial or viral infections in mothers or their babies. The risk is higher if someone ingests the placenta of another person.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported the case of an infant who had been hospitalized for an infection from a bacteria found in the placenta pills his mother had been ingesting.
Some health claims allege that consuming human placenta preparations helps to prevent postpartum depression, increases energy levels and boosts breast milk production.
But Health Canada says there is no scientific evidence to support such claims and products containing human placenta are not authorized for consumption in Canada.
There are a range of methods used to prepare placenta for consumption, including steaming, cooking, dehydrating and encapsulating. Placenta products prepared by a third party are considered drugs and are subject to the requirements of the Food and Drugs Act.
Health Canada has sent several compliance letters to clinics and individuals offering human placenta encapsulation services to clarify regulatory requirements. The department says it will take regulatory action if any health risk is identified.