Shining Light on GBS and Placenta Encapsulation

 

Recently I’ve been asked a lot of questions on testing GBS+ and what that means for placenta consumption. Here’s additional information to help you make a more informed decision for you and your family.

 

Am I able to encapsulate my placenta if I test positive for GBS?

Yes! A GBS positive test result is not a contraindication for encapsulation unless there is an active infection in birthing parent or baby immediately following birth. Providers test at around 36 weeks for GBS colonization in the vagina/rectum and 1 in 4 women will test positive. Testing positive for colonization does not mean testing positive for an active infection in your baby (which occurs post birth) which is a lot more rare, especially after the use of antibiotics during labor. 

Birth Twin Cities maintains a high standard of practice that prepares placentas in a separate at home work space, requires the TCM (steam method) and dehydrates at 160 degrees. This method follows food preparation and blood borne pathogen safety guidelines and is effective in reducing bacterial counts, including potential Group B Strep.

 

What’s the bad rap with placenta encapsulation and testing GBS+?

Last summer the CDC released a single case where a baby was infected at birth and then reinfected later. The mother tested negative for GBS during pregnancy (however her status changed by the time birth occurred) and therefore did not receive antibiotics during labor. The baby contracted GBS, an active infection formed and was treated with antibiotics. The hospital released the placenta and the encapsulator improperly prepared the placenta using the raw method and dehydrated it only at 115 degrees (it should not have been dehydrated under 160 degrees to effectively kill bacteria). The baby became reinfected and had to receive a second dose of antibiotics. Thankfully the baby fully recovered. Additional tests showed that the placenta pills tested positive for Group B Strep while it’s important to note, the breast milk tested negative for Group B Strep. The CDC recommended that placenta encapsulation should be avoided however it did not point out a link between the pills and reinfection or explain how baby was reinfected.

-How was the baby reinfected with GBS in this case?

The case isn’t clear since GBS was not found in breastmilk but it may have been from the mother touching the improperly prepared pills that were not up to food prep standards and then touching the baby. Others in the home may have had GBS colonization on their skin and then passed on to baby (as per the CDC pointing out).

 

Takeaways from this study are:

1) If there is an active infection post birth, encapsulation should not happen. And we already know that… Birth Twin Cities will not encapsulate placentas from birth persons/babies that have chorio or an active infection from GBS.

2) CDC case notes that the placenta in question may not have been dehydrated at a high enough temperature to reduce bacterial counts. That’s why at Birth Twin Cities we encapsulate at 160 degrees and steam any placentas from persons who test positive for Group B Strep during pregnancy as an additional safety precaution.

3) Group B Strep has not been found in breast milk, therefore the assumption that GBS can be passed from mother to baby via breast milk is inaccurate according to the information we have available to us.

4) Proper hygiene and hand sanitization is necessary, especially around newborns as potential reinfection may have been from other persons in home who had GBS on their skin.

 

TLDR:

If you test positive for GBS (and do not have an active infection) and you chose to encapsulate your placenta, you can be confident in Birth Twin Cities’ high standard of preparation which includes a  separate at home work space, quality sterilization practices, steaming (212 degrees) and dehydrating your placenta at 160 degrees which is the requirement for food preparation safety.

 

References

https://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/volumes/66/wr/mm6625a4.htm

https://placentaassociation.com/group-b-strep-placenta-encapsulation-safety-gbs/