Microplastics found in breast milk, how will it affect babies?

Microplastics found in human breast milk for the first time and doctors are concerned about the health of babies.

Breast milk remains the most recommended feeding method. In addition, other studies have found plastic particles in baby bottles and also in cow’s milk.

A more recent study warns about the presence of plastic microparticles in breast milk. Microplastics continue to advance in ecosystems and also enter the human body. They arrive through the air we breathe, the water we drink and the food we eat, and scientists say it’s inevitable that they end up in our organs.

As soon as it closes, microplastics have been found in the blood, in the lungs, in the placentas of babies who have been born, or in the intestine, where they produce damage to the microbiota, which is linked to the immune system and to mood.

The annual consumption of microplastics by an average human being is estimated to be between 74,000 and 121,000 particles per year. In other words, the plastic equivalent of one credit card a week enters our bodies.

Microplastics detected in human breast milk for the first time

A group of scientists has found microplastics in human breast milk for the first time, a situation that raises concerns about the possible repercussions on the health of babies. In any case, the researchers emphasized that breastfeeding remains the best feeding alternative.

The study collected breast milk samples from 34 healthy mothers one week after giving birth in Rome. The results showed microplastics in 75% of them. Although the toxic effects on human cell lines, laboratory animals and marine fauna are already known, science still doesn’t know exactly how microplastics impact humans.

Plastics often contain harmful chemicals such as phthalatesthat were also previously found in breast milk.

One piece of information provided by the research is that the scientists found no correlation between the consumption of food and beverages in plastic containers and seafood, as well as the use of personal hygiene products that contain plastic, with the presence of microplastics.

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The ubiquitous presence of microplastics

What do you suggest? That the ubiquitous presence of microplastics in the environment «makes human exposure inevitable», although future research may expand this field and identify specific risk factors.

«It will be crucial to assess ways to reduce exposure to these pollutants during pregnancy and lactation.», warns Dr. Valentina Notarstefano, from Università Politecnica delle Marche, in Ancona (Italy), noting that the advantages of breastfeeding far outweigh the inconveniences that microplastics can generate.

There is also no way for children to get rid of this contamination. Another study already warned about the daily intake of millions of microplastics in bottle-fed children. Other research has also found that cow’s milk may also contain microplastics.

These polluting particles are already found all over the planet: they are present as deep as the Mariana Trench, in enclaves as high as Mount Everest and in places as remote as the Arctic islands. With this, there is no longer any doubt about its presence in the human body, we inhale and ingest it daily.

phthalates, microplastics, breast milk, pollution, ecosystems

What kind of microplastics were found in breast milk?

The report, published in the journal polymers, found microplastics composed of polyethylene, PVC and polypropylene, present in numerous containers. The researchers were unable to analyze particles smaller than 2 microns and believe it is likely that there are smaller plastic particles in breast milk.

Scientists emphasize that we are only seeing the tip of the iceberg with microplastics. Smaller nanometer-sized plastics will likely be more prevalent and more toxic, but are currently impossible to detect in complex matrices such as breast milk.


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