Finding strategies for pregnant women to lessen exposure to microplastic contaminants has become essential now. This is because microplastics were detected in human breast milk, raising concerns over health impact on babies.
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Microplastics have been found in human breast milk for the first time, according to a recent study, raising concerns about their possible toxicity and potential implications on newborn health.
Microplastics made of polyethylene, polyvinyl chloride (PVC), and polypropylene with dimensions ranging from 2 to 12 micrometers were discovered in the study’s (read below) participants’ breast milk.
Microplastics (MPs) are incredibly tiny plastic granules made of a combination of polymers and functional additives.
Although they can also be made deliberately and incorporated to commodities like exfoliating facial scrubs, the bulk of MPs are inadvertently discharged into the environment after the disposal and breakdown of bigger plastic products or industrial waste.
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34 healthy new moms who were lactating in Rome, Italy, a week after giving birth, provided samples of their breast milk for the study. Raman microspectroscopy was used to examine their milk, and 26 out of the 34 women had MPs, based on the result.
The women’s consumption of seafood, food and beverages in plastic packaging, and their usage of personal care products containing plastic components were all noted by the researchers.
They did not discover any meaningful correlation between the two, though, which they claimed demonstrated “that the ubiquitous MP presence makes human exposure inevitable.”
Microplastics were discovered in human placentas in a prior study that was conducted in 2020, and the researchers said that this finding, along with more recent discoveries of MPs in human breast milk, “represents a great concern since it impacts the extremely vulnerable population of infants.”
“In fact, the chemicals possibly contained in foods, beverages, and personal care products consumed by breastfeeding mothers may be transferred to the offspring, potentially exerting a toxic effect,” the study authors wrote.
“Hence, it is mandatory to increase efforts in scientific research to deepen the knowledge of the potential health impairment caused by MP internalization and accumulation, especially in infants, and to assess innovative, useful ways to reduce exposure to these contaminants during pregnancy and lactation,” researchers added.
Breastfeeding Benefits Outweigh Disadvantages
Finding strategies for pregnant women to lessen exposure to these contaminants is essential, according to Valentina Notarstefano of the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, who spoke with The Guardian. This is true for both lactation and pregnancy.
She did, however, highlight breastfeeding’s benefits, claiming they exceed the negative effects of microplastic pollution.
“Studies like ours must not reduce breastfeeding of children, but instead raise public awareness to pressure politicians to promote laws that reduce pollution,” Notarstefano said.
“We would like to advise pregnant women to pay greater attention to avoiding food and drink packaged in plastic, cosmetics, and toothpaste containing microplastics, and clothes made of synthetic fabrics,” Notarstefano added.
The most recent studies follow one published in the American Chemical Society in September 2021 that suggested babies may have at least ten times as much microplastic in their bodies as adults.
Babies crawl about on carpets that frequently have transferrable microplastics, according to study researchers.
Additionally, earlier this year, researchers at Hull York Medical School in England discovered microplastics for the first time in the lungs of living people.
The most frequent types of plastic detected in the lungs, according to that study, were polypropylene and fibers of polyethylene terephthalate (PET), the chemical name for polyester.
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