Human Breast Milk Containing Microplastics

For the first time, microplastics have been found in human breast milk, according to a recent study that was published in Polymers.

Although additional research is required, the experts expressed concern about the potential health implications on infants.

According to Valentina Notarstefano, PhD, one of the study’s authors from the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Italy, “the proof of microplastics’ presence in breast milk enhances our enormous concern for the highly susceptible population of children.”

Assessing approaches to lower exposure to these pollutants during pregnancy and lactation will be essential, she said. However, it is important to note that breastfeeding has many more benefits than the negative effects brought on by the presence of microplastic pollution.

34 healthy moms’ breast milk samples that were collected one week after giving birth in Rome were examined by the research team. In 26 of the samples, or 76% of them, microplastics were found.

The moms’ use of food and beverages packaged in plastic as well as their usage of plastic-containing personal hygiene products were both noted by the researchers. However, they did not discover a correlation with the presence of microplastics in breast milk, which shows that because microplastics are so prevalent in the environment, human exposure to them is unavoidable, according to the study’s authors.

In 2020, the research team also discovered microplastics in human placentas, according to The Guardian. Microplastics have been discovered in human blood, cow’s milk, and the polypropylene bottles that are frequently used to bottle-feed infants in other research. Although earlier research has shown that microplastics are hazardous to human cell lines, lab animals, and marine species, it is still unknown how microplastics affect actual people.

In the most recent investigation, the researchers discovered that microplastics were composed of the plastic packaging materials polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyvinyl chloride. Even smaller plastic particles were likely present in the breast milk, according to the study, despite their inability to examine particles smaller than 2 microns.

The research team was unable to pinpoint the risk variables connected to breast milk microplastics. However, Notarstefano cautioned expecting mothers to be mindful of the foods and beverages they consume that come in plastic wrapping as well as the clothing and cosmetics they use that contain microplastics.

Studies like ours shouldn’t discourage breastfeeding but rather increase public awareness to compel legislators to support pollution-reduction legislation, according to the researcher.

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