Afterbirth ingestion by nonhuman mammalian mothers has a number of benefits: (1) increasing the interaction between the mother and infant; (2) potentiating pregnancy-mediated analgesia in the delivering mother; (3) potentiating maternal brain opioid circuits that facilitate the onset
of caretaking behavior; and (4) suppressing postpartum pseudopregnancy. Childbirth is fraught with additional problems for which there are no practical nonhuman animal models: postpartum depression, failure to bond, hostility toward infants. Ingested afterbirth may contain components that
ameliorate these problems, but the issue has not been tested empirically. The results of such studies, if positive, will be medically relevant. If negative, speculations and recommendations will persist, as it is not possible to prove the negative. A more challenging anthropological question
is “why don't humans engage in placentophagia as a biological imperative?” Is it possible that there is more adaptive advantage in not doing so?
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Document Type: Research Article
Behavioral Neuroscience Program, Department of Psychology,University at Buffalo, Buffalo,New York, USA
Department of Psychology,Buffalo State College, Buffalo,New York, USA
Research Institute on Addictions, University at Buffalo, Buffalo,New York, USA
Publication date: 2012-05-01
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