Contamination alert: microplastics found in the breast milk of healthy women

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Although the finding caused concern, the researchers urge mothers not to stop breastfeeding their babies (Europa Press)
Although the finding caused concern, the researchers urge mothers not to stop breastfeeding their babies (Europa Press)

After Dutch researchers months ago detected microplastic particles in the bloodstream of 77% of study participants, now Italian scientists found them in breast milk for the first time.

These are the researchers from the Marche Polytechnic Universityin Ancona, Italy, who took samples of breastmilk a 34 healthy mothers one week after delivery. And after their analysis, they saw with concern the presence of microplastics, raising concerns about potential health effects in infants. According to findings published in the journal Polymersthey found the small plastics in the 75% of total samples.

“The widespread use of plastics determines the inevitable human exposure to their by-products, including microplastics, which enter the human body primarily by ingestion, inhalation, and dermal contact -described the authors of the work in the publication-. Once internalized, microplastics can cross cell membranes and travel to different sites in the body, triggering specific cellular mechanisms. Therefore, the potential health damage caused by the internalization and accumulation of these particles is of great concern, as confirmed by numerous studies reporting evident toxic effects in various animal models, marine organisms, and human cell lines.”

People can be exposed to endocrine disruptors through the consumption of food and drinks in plastic containers (Getty)
People can be exposed to endocrine disruptors through the consumption of food and drinks in plastic containers (Getty)

Previous research had shown the toxic effects of microplastics in human cell lines, laboratory animals and marine fauna, but the impact on living humans is still unknown. Plastics often contain harmful chemicalssuch as phthalates, which were now found in breast milk.

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For the work, the scientists recorded the consumption of food and drinks in plastic containers of the mothers. In addition, they analyzed their intake of fish and shellfish and the use of personal hygiene products that contain plastic. But apparently they found no correlation with its presence in breast milk. This suggests that the omnipresent presence of microplastics in the environment “makes human exposure unavoidable,” the researchers said, although future larger studies may identify particular risk factors.

Dr. Valentina Notarstefano is a researcher at the Università Politecnica delle Marche, in Ancona, Italy, and one of the authors of the study, and said: “The proof of the presence of microplastics in breast milk increases our great concern for the baby population extremely vulnerable.”

In March, the results of a study that found microplastics in the bloodstream for the first time were known
In March, the results of a study that found microplastics in the bloodstream for the first time were known

“It will be crucial to assess ways of reduce exposure to these pollutants during pregnancy and lactation he added. But it must be emphasized that the advantage from Breastfeeding they are much greater than the inconveniences caused by the presence of polluting microplastics. Studies like ours should not reduce breastfeeding of childrenbut to raise public awareness to pressure politicians to promote laws that reduce pollution.”

Research on milk found microplastics composed of polyethylene, PVC and polypropylene, found in the packages. And while the researchers weren’t able to analyze particles smaller than 2 microns, they believe they are likely to be present. smaller plastic particles. “We would like to advise pregnant women to pay more attention to avoid food and drinks packaged in plasticcosmetics and toothpastes that contain microplastics, and clothing made of synthetic fabrics,” said the specialist.

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The world production of plastics reached an impressive amount of more than 350 million tons per year. This is the result of massive demand for this material, which was considered, until now, the gold choice in terms of durability, usability and versatility for a wide variety of applications and consumer products, the researchers found. This widespread use of plastics also caused their accumulation in landfills and in the natural environment. In fact, as a consequence of the extensive production and use of single-use productswhich represent more than 40% of the plastics manufactured, it is estimated that 250,000 tons of plastic garbage float in the oceans.

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