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Despite national ban, e-sales of placenta continue to thrive

By Zheng Xin  (China Daily)

09:06, October 25, 2011

BEIJING - Sales of human placenta continue to flourish online, despite a government ban on the trade and warnings from health experts about the risk of disease.

Taobao, the country's largest online marketplace, is awash with vendors offering dried or ground placenta, a popular ingredient in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM).

Several traders contacted by China Daily said their products were secretly purchased from staff members at hospitals and specialized maternity clinics, without the knowledge of new mothers.

"I've got relatives working in hospitals, and the quality of the products is guaranteed," said a Shanghai-based e-trader who refused to be identified for fear of repercussions.

His online ID is "One Night in Guangzhou".

According to the sales record of his Taobao store, he has sold 42 placentas in the past 85 days.

Placenta, a vascular organ discharged shortly after birth, is believed to be full of protein and nutrients, and according to TCM doctors can help improve the immune system, slow the aging process and cure impotence and infertility.

However, due to disease concerns, the Ministry of Health banned the trade of placenta in 2005.

"For sanitary reasons, only a new mother can ask for her placenta from hospital staff," said Ma Yanming, spokesman for the Beijing municipal health bureau. "But if the woman doesn't want it or the placenta is deemed unhealthy, the hospital must have it burned and buried as medical waste."

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