New research suggests that infants take in more microplastics than anyone else. The study showed that poop 1-year-old babies had a higher level of microplastics than adult cattle, while plastic could even be found in khaki newborns. Although based on the small sample size, the findings could indicate that younger children face an increased risk of hormone exposure.interfering chemicals that come out of the plastic.
Microplastics – any piece of plastic smaller than 5 millimeters – has received a great deal of scientific attention in recent years. Studies have found plastics everywhere in our environment, from ocean to wind to archaeological sites, and these plastics are also completion up in our bodies.
Research into the health effects of plastic exposure is still ongoing, but the main source of danger is likely to come from a large group chemicals that interfere with the endocrine systemor EDCs, which are usually found in plastic. These chemicals mimic hormones in our body that help regulate key processes like figseep and fertility. SOme studies suggest that EDC may increase the risk of infertility, metabolic disorders such as diabetes, and even some cancers.
This makes the findings of this new study, published Wednesday in the journals Science and Technology Letters, all the more worrying.
A team of researchers from the US and China tested fecal samples from three newborns (for newborns, this was their first faecal emission), 1-in infants aged 10 years and 10 adults, who are especially looking for traces of two common plastics. They another plastic, polypropylene, which can be found in diapers is excluded to reduce the risk of contaminated results.
All adults and infants had one or both types of plastic in khaki. But on average, infants had levels of both plastics for an order of magnitude higher than the average amount found in adult khaki. Some of the newborns had plastic in khaki, also, indicating that their exposure occurred even before birth (other research they found plastic in placenta).
The research is described as a pilot study – an early attempt to determine if additional studies are needed to further explore a particular topic. Therefore, the results should not be considered final. And at this point they remain many questions about exact damage which are microplastics and chemicals they contain.
“Unfortunately, with the modern way of life, babies are exposed to so many different things that we don’t know what consequences they can have later in life,” said co-author Kurunthachalam Kannan, an environmental scientist at New York University. Faculty of Medicine, said Wired.
Whatever the effects of EDC, scientists feared that early exposure to them could be even worse because hormones play an important role in our development, including puberty. And if these results are confirmed through future research, they indicate a worrying care especially for younger children. The obvious way of exposure can be toys or milk bottles that children put in their mouths, there may still be other dangers that are unique to them.
“This is a very interesting article with very worrying numbers,” Deonie Allen, a microplastics researcher at the University of Strathclyde who is not involved in the study, told Wired. “We need to look at everything the child is exposed to, not just his bottles and toys.”
Because plastic is so ubiquitous, there probably isn’t much an individual can do to reduce the risk of exposure. But scientists are beginning to call for broad systemic action to reduce the use of plastics in various industries. Last year a large report by the Endocrine Society and others declared plastic poses a global threat to the health of both wildlife and humans.
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