Babies’ stools contain ten times more microplastics than those of adults. Worse: even meconium, the first stools of newborns, contain plastic. This is undoubtedly proof that these microparticles cross the placenta.
Plastic bottles, floor mats, toys, pacifiers, but also clothes and soft toys: babies are very exposed to plastics. Even much more than adults, according to a recent study of the New York University School of Medecine, published in the journal “Environmental Science Technology Letter”.
Plastics everywhere in babies’ environment
Analysis of the soiled diapers of six one-year-old babies shows that they absorb on average, daily, 83,000 nanograms per kilogram of body weight of PET. Analysis of the stools of ten adults shows that we ingest 58,000 nanograms of this material per pound of body weight every day. PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is one of the most commonly used plastics. It is used in particular in the composition of toys, baby bottles, bottles and other flasks, in those of kitchen utensils, cooking-resistant packaging, but also fleece-type textile fibers or even the padding of cushions or soft toys. It is therefore almost impossible to avoid exposure.
The researchers also studied the concentration of polycarbonate (PC), a polymer that has the particularity of being strong and transparent, in the stools of adults and babies. Verdict: the concentrations are equivalent.
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The stools of newborns already polluted by plastic
Another worrying, and even alarming element of this study: the presence of microplastic particles in the stools of newborns. The researchers have, in fact, analyzed the meconium, the first stools of babies at birth. Conclusion: It contains concentrations similar to those of adults in PET. This is undoubtedly proof that the microparticles cross the placenta. While it has long been considered that once ingested, plastic passes directly into the gastrointestinal tract before being excreted in the stool. But, recent research actually suggests that microparticles smaller than ten microns can cross cell membranes and reach the circulatory system. And, thus get lodged in organs such as the brain.
Scientists’ next goal is to now study the real effects of these plastic microparticles on children’s development. Studies on laboratory animals have shown that exposure to polystyrene nanoplastics leads to lung and metabolic problems, as well as cell cycle arrest, activation of inflammatory genes and promotion of cell apoptosis (or death). .