The study found microplastics made of polyethylene, polypropylene, and PVC in breast milk. These are all found in packaging material
A group of researchers detected microplastics in human breast milk for the first time, raising concern over the health ramifications for newborns.
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While experts said breastfeeding was by far the best way to feed a baby, they also agreed that further research was urgently required as infants are especially vulnerable to chemical contaminants, The Guardian reported.
The scientists collected breast milk samples from 34 healthy mothers in Rome, Italy, a week after they gave birth. Of them, 75 percent had microplastics, the research on breast milk, published in the journal Polymers, said.
“It will be crucial to assess ways to reduce exposure to these contaminants during pregnancy and lactation," The Guardian quoted Dr Valentina Notarstefano from the Università Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, Italy, as saying.
The study found microplastics made of polyethene, polypropylene, and PVC in breast milk. These are all found in packaging material.
Harmful chemicals like phthalates, which are often found in plastics, have been detected in breast milk before. Earlier research has also revealed the harmful effects of microplastics on human cell lines, lab animals and marine wildlife. However, their impact on living humans is still not known.
The scientists monitored the mothers' consumption of food and drink in plastic packaging and seafood as well as the use of plastic-containing personal hygiene articles. However, they found no correlation with the presence of microplastics. As a result, scientists said the ubiquitous presence of microplastics in the environment is what makes human exposure to it inevitable.
According to Dr Valentina Notarstefano, the advantages of breastfeeding are much greater than the disadvantages of the presence of microplastics. Such studies should not be used to reduce the breastfeeding of children but should raise public awareness and increase the pressure on politicians to promote laws that reduce pollution.
The Italian team advised pregnant women to pay greater attention to avoiding clothes made of synthetic fabrics, food and drink packaged in plastic, and cosmetics and toothpaste containing microplastics.
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Earlier this year, microplastics were detected in human blood. Professor Dick Vethaak of Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam, Netherlands, who was part of the study that found microplastics in human blood, said this was only “the tip of the iceberg”
“Smaller nano-sized plastics are likely more prevalent and toxic,” Daily Mail quoted Vethaak as saying.
First Published: IST