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Doctors: Potential Dangers In Women Taking Freeze-Dried Placenta Pills

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PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Buoyed by celebrity endorsements, more and more women are choosing to have their placenta made into pills after they've given birth.

The placenta is freeze-dried and turned into pills. Some claim a variety of benefits, but doctors say there is little research to back up health claims and there can be potential dangers.

Jennifer Mayer is a doula and placenta specialist. She's been creating pills made from placenta for eight years. She started after the birth of her first baby.

"The days I forgot to take it I was just way more tired, the afternoons seemed way longer," said Mayer. "The days I did take it, the days just went smoother."

Mayer says clients report having more energy, fewer mood swings, and better breast milk production.

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"After having a baby, it can be a really challenging time," said Mayer. "Your reserves are depleted, so anything that can help you replenish and restore."

The placenta is an organ that's created during pregnancy to sustain a growing fetus. It's delivered with the baby and is usually discarded by hospitals.

The process to encapsulate the placenta is not FDA regulated, but specialists say it's cleaned and prepared before dehydration.

"We know there are some potential harms and the research doesn't demonstrate any benefits," said Dr. Barbara Levy of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.

Levy says she has safety concerns about consuming placenta because its job is to filter out poisons and bacteria during pregnancy.

"There was a scenario where a woman did the encapsulation and ingested it," said Levy. "She didn't get sick, but the bacteria got through her breast milk and got the baby very, very sick."

Levy recommends new moms talk with their doctors before making decisions about placenta pills.

Placenta pills cost a couple hundred dollars and experts say they can make people feel anxious and jittery if they take too much.

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