A new study detects microplastics in human breast milk for the first time, raising concerns about potential toxic effects and health implications for infants.
researchers in study Microplastics composed of polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polypropylene were found in women’s breast milk ranging in size from 2 to 12 micrometers.
Microplastics (MPs) are very small plastic particles composed of a mixture of polymers and functional additives.
The majority of MP is unintentionally released into the environment during disposal or decomposition of larger plastic products and industrial waste, but is intentionally manufactured and added to products such as exfoliating facial scrubs. sometimes.
The researchers in this study collected breast milk samples from 34 healthy new mothers who were breastfeeding one week after giving birth in Rome, Italy. Her milk was then analyzed by Raman microspectroscopy and her MP was found in 26 of the 34 women.
Researchers documented the women’s consumption of food and seafood in plastic containers, as well as the use of personal care products containing plastic compounds.
However, no significant relationship was found between the two, suggesting “the ubiquitous presence of MP makes human exposure inevitable,” they said.
The researchers pointed to an earlier study conducted in 2020. Microplastics in human placenta And this finding, coupled with the latest findings of MPs in human breast milk, “represent great concern as they affect a highly vulnerable infant population.”
“In fact, chemicals that may be present in food, beverages, and personal care products consumed by nursing mothers can be transferred to offspring and have toxic effects,” the study authors said. is writing
“Thus, we will advance our knowledge of the potential health hazards caused by the internalization and accumulation of MPs, especially in infants, and evaluate innovative and useful methods to reduce exposure to these contaminants during pregnancy and lactation.” To do so, it is imperative that we increase our commitment to scientific research,” the researchers added.
The advantages of breastfeeding outweigh the disadvantages
Valentina Notarstefano of the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, told The Guardian that it’s important to find ways to reduce the exposure of pregnant women to these pollutants, both during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
However, she points out the benefits of breastfeeding, which outweigh the drawbacks caused by the presence of contaminated microplastics.
“Research like ours shouldn’t reduce breastfeeding in children, but it shouldn’t raise public awareness to pressure politicians to push for laws that reduce pollution,” he said. Notarstefano said.
“I would advise pregnant women to be more careful to avoid food and drinks packaged in plastic containing microplastics, cosmetics, toothpaste and clothing made from synthetic fibers,” added Notarstefano. rice field.
The latest findings come after another study presented at the American Chemical Society in September 2021 found that babies can have at least 10 times more microplastics in their bodies than adults. I was.
Researchers in that study noted that infants typically crawl on carpets containing mobile microplastics.
Earlier this year, scientists at Hull York Medical College in England discovered microplastics deep inside the lungs of living humans for the first time.
The study found that fibers of polypropylene and polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the chemical name for polyester, are the most common forms of plastic found in the lungs.