Babies’ poop has way higher levels of microplastic than adults’

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What this means for their health is still questionable

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When it comes to babies, according to new research, a considerable amount of plastic appears to be moving from one end to the other, including spatulas, diapers and stools. In particular, the average In a small pilot study published this week, the concentration of a broad type of microplastic in child feces was ten times higher than in adult feces. plastic, called PET, or polyethylene terephthalate, is widely used in bottles and polyester textiles.

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The study authors say the results suggest that infants may be exposed to higher levels of microplastics than adults. When babies put toys or clothes in their mouths, they may ingest small fibers or pieces of plastic. Then there are plastic food containers, sippy cups, and baby bottles, which can shed even pieces of PET smaller than the diameter of a pencil eraser. Mixing hot water and formula in a plastic bottle can weaken the plastic and open even smaller pieces Its. Crawling babies are more likely than walking adults to get a microfiber-filled face from polyester carpeting, which they can ingest or inhale.

scientists are still trying to guess it What does this mean for the health of babies? There hasn’t been much research into how the microplastics around us – and in our bodies – affect human health. But the new study on baby poop, published yesterday magazine environmental science and technology paper, Something is there Researchers are concerned.

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“As babies are exposed to high levels of plastic, something needs to be done,” says co-author and professor of environmental medicine and pediatrics at New York University School of Medicine, Kurunthachalam Kannan. “Early life stages are very vulnerable.”

Scientists used to think that ingesting plastic would simply come out the other end, just as other things babies could eat that they shouldn’t. but Research Published in 2019, it suggests that very small pieces of plastic may actually be able to pass through cell membranes to infiltrate the body’s circulatory system. If so, microplastics can cause more problems. There is evidence that microplastics in the bloodstream can cause inflammation and cell death, affecting the immune system, Kannan says.

Plastics also contain a myriad of chemicals, including endocrine disruptors These can mess with the body’s hormones and have been linked to adverse effects on metabolism and reproductive and neurological health. Children may be more sensitive to those effects than adults because their bodies are still growing and developing, and Kannan says the effects can last into adulthood.

Kannan and his colleagues studied stool samples from six different one-year-olds in New York City. He also observed the first defecation of three newborn babies. To do this, they scraped samples from the diaper using a spatula – being careful to avoid anything that came in direct contact with the diaper to avoid counting microplastics that might have come from the diaper and from the baby. No. The researchers also decided not to test for a plastic commonly used in diapers, called polypropylene. Instead, they looked for PET and polycarbonate (another type of plastic commonly used in phone cases) in the poop. They found both types of plastic, but only saw a meaningful difference in PET concentrations between infants and adults. They took stool samples from 10 adults in Albany, New York.

Little is known about how exposure to microplastics varies by location and among populations. So this new study adds to the call for more research. “Our data provide baseline evidence for [microplastic] Exposure doses in infants and adults and support the need for further studies with larger sample sizes to confirm and extend our findings,” the study states.

“This is a very interesting paper with some very worrying numbers,” said Deonie Allen, a research fellow at the University of Strathclyde who was not involved in the study. wired. “We need to look at everything a child is exposed to, not just their bottles and toys.”

The prevailing belief of twenty or thirty years ago that plastic is harmless, says Kannan, is one reason why the matter hasn’t been studied much. He says that to change this, research will need more federal support because studies that will look at a broader population are often prohibitively expensive to perform. “You need millions of dollars to do a study like this with 1,000 samples,” he says. “Of course it will be a great study, but it requires a lot of resources.”

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