Researchers are warning new mothers to avoid taking placenta capsules, noting the process is not regulated and there is no guarantee the capsules are free of harmful germs.
The mother was instructed to stop consuming the capsules, and the infant was given additional ampicillin and gentamicin before being released from the hospital.
The CDC notes that no standards exist for processing placenta for consumption and advises avoiding "placenta capsule ingestion".
The researchers include some lab scientists at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The report argued that the pills likely enhanced the strep bacteria present in the mother's intestines and skin, from which the infant contracted the bacteria.
Still, it's perhaps the strongest statement to date by any medical authorities against the practice, said Sharon Young, a UNLV researcher who has studied the practice.
"I've heard physicians say there's no benefit to doing it, that it's pointless".
"Many of my colleagues in obstetrics were more aware of it than I was", she said. The baby became ill twice with a strep infection last fall. "In cases of maternal GBS colonization, chorioamnionitis, or early-onset neonatal GBS infection, ingestion of capsules containing contaminated placenta could heighten maternal colonization, thereby increasing an infant's risk for late-onset neonatal GBS infection". Docs eventually determined that the baby had late-onset group B Streptococcus agalactiae (GBS), which they traced back to the maker of Mom's placenta pills.
Placenta-eating remains a popular fad among mothers like Kardashian West, whose tweet about her own experience was retweeted and "liked" thousands of times in 2015. It's possible the company - which was not identified - failed to heat the placenta enough to kill germs, the authors said. "But that particular study, although quite rigorous and convincing, suggested that the placenta had to be eaten right after birth, completely, in its entirety, and that it couldn't be stored or heated".
In ancient Chinese medicine, ground placenta was a form of treatment, but it only occurred as part of a natural birth movement in the late 1960s to 1970s.