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Microplastics detected in breast milk


For the first time in history, a study has discovered microplastics in human breast milk.

To think that we can carry these microplastics to the next generation from birth is really worrying, since babies are especially vulnerable to chemical contaminants. Now, this concern has grown according to the results of new research published in the journal Polymers.


terrible discovery

A team of Italian scientists analyzed breast milk samples, all taken exactly one week after giving birth, from 34 healthy mothers, for microplastics. They detected microplastics in 75% of breast milk samples. The experts collected 1 gram of milk a week after the mothers gave birth. To avoid contamination, the milk was collected using non-plastic containers and expressed by hand, rather than using a breast pump.

There were between one and five plastic microparticles in the milk samples, which came from PVC, polyethylene and polypropylene, all of which are common plastics in materials such as plastic bottles and containers, synthetic leather or furniture coatings.

The scientists recorded the mothers’ consumption of food and drinks in plastic containers and of seafood, as well as the use of personal hygiene products containing plastic. But they found no correlation with the presence of microplastics.

“The proof of the presence of microplastics in breast milk raises our great concern for the extremely vulnerable population of babies,” explains Valentina Notarstefano, from the Universita Politecnica delle Marche in Ancona, and co-author of the work.

It seems that, from now on, it will be very important to evaluate ways to reduce exposure during pregnancy and lactation to these toxic microplastics, many times smaller than the width of a human hair.

Breast milk is the best way to feed the baby

Despite this, scientists say that breast milk is still the best way to feed a baby for most mothers, as the use of plastic bottles and formula can expose babies to even higher levels tall plastic.

For years, plastic particles were considered inert, but more and more studies show the harmful effects on human cells both in the laboratory and in animals. Given that these tiny plastic particles have been found anywhere from human lung tissue and blood to the far reaches of the South Pole, from the top of Mount Everest to the deepest oceans, this finding may not surprise most. There are huge amounts of plastic waste being dumped into the environment and microplastics polluting the entire planet.

Referencia: Raman Microspectroscopy Detection and Characterization of Microplastics in Human Breastmilk

Antonio Ragusa, 1 Valentina Notarstefano, 2, * Alessandro Svelato, 3 Alessia Belloni, 2 Giorgia Gioacchini, 2 Christine Blondeel, 3 Emma Zucchelli, 3 Caterina De Luca, 3 Sara D’Avino, 3 Alessandra Gulotta, 4 Oliana Carnevali, 2 and Elisabetta Giorgini 2

Xinfeng Wei, Academic Editor, Emmanuel Richaud, Academic Editor, and Andrew M. Booth, Academic Edit

Polymers (Basel). 2022 Jul; 14 (13): 2700.

Published online 2022 Jun 30. doi: 10.3390 / polym14132700

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