Ho ho. Ha ha ha. Laugh laugh. Giggle.
Anderson Cooper and Dr. Sanjay Gupta spent nearly four light-hearted minutes on the new talk show Anderson talking about new mothers eating their placentas. Dr. Gupta said, with all the gravitas in the world, “people say” they eat it to prevent postpartum depression.
People say? Who are those people?
It is an interesting topic, I grant you. Yet, I would have hoped that Dr. Gupta could have perhaps discussed the research more, or lack thereof. I would have hoped that two people with such an enormous audience could have spent perhaps 30 SECONDS of those 4 minutes talking about how serious postpartum depression is, and what the other treatments for postpartum depression might be, especially since this one is not considered by many experts to be an effective treatment for PPD. Maybe I missed it. Maybe it was in a part of the show I didn’t see on this clip.
Here’s what Dr. Marlene Freeman, a reproductive psychiatrist and expert on perinatal mood and anxiety disorders from Harvard and the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Women’s Mental Health said here on Postpartum Progress about consuming the placenta to prevent postpartum depression:
“From an evidence-based perspective, even with a viewpoint open to complementary and alternative therapies, this doesn’t pass the test for women with postpartum illness or at risk for postpartum illness. My concern with this and other unsubstantiated claims about complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) treatments is that ‘natural’ is often assumed safe and seen as advantageous over more rigorously tested treatments. At worst, a woman with postpartum illness or at risk for it might forego a comprehensive assessment (that she deserves to have), a full menu of options for treatment (that could include more proven CAM treatment options) and careful monitoring of her symptoms.”
Here’s what Pec Indman, author, therapist and long-time international advocation for women with postpartum depression said in an interview on Kate Kripke’s blog:
“Although there has not been one study (not even poorly done) about the effects in humans on placental ingestion, the claims are that it prevents the blues and PPD … which contributes the spread of misinformation about perinatal mood and anxiety disorders. There is no evidence that the freeze drying processing of placental tissues maintains the integrity of the hormones, protein, and iron. There is no evidence about any part of this process to warrant a recommendation.”
I know. I’m being a bit of a hard-ass. But seriously. Two dudes laughing about this and talking about it without ever asking questions or looking at both sides — or discussing the fact that there’s no harm in trying it, and if it works great, but if it doesn’t here’s what you need to do because postpartum depression is a serious illness — STICKS IN MY CRAW.
If you are a believer in consuming your placenta to prevent postpartum depression, that’s cool. If it worked for you, or you believe it worked for you, or you are someone who believe it works for the people with whom you work, that’s cool. Really. I just haven’t seen much in the way of medical evidence, and I want to be sure that women who try it know that if it doesn’t work for them there are other things they can and should do to get help.
And Mr. Cooper and Dr. Gupta? I love you guys, really I do, but a million women suffer PPD each year. Eighty-five percent of them never get the help they need and deserve. I’d love it if you could mention that.
Ladies, if you agree, you can let @andersoncooper and @sanjayguptacnn know that postpartum depression is serious on Twitter.