Microplastics

The present study summarizes the possible exposure of infants to microplastics (MPs) as well as the detection of possible released MPs in infant feces, breast milk, and infant formulas. Microplastics are small plastic pieces with sizes less than 5 mm. People are in close contact with microplastics, which, due to their physical and chemical properties, have a negative effect on human health. Exposure to microplastics even in small amounts already in childhood can affect human health throughout life. The potential risks of microplastics may be greater for infants because they do not have sufficiently developed metabolizing enzymes, have less ability to remove microplastics, and have highly sensitive target organs. The specific behavior of children, such as crawling, hand—to—mouth movement, makes children more exposed to harmful substances than adults. Infants should be breastfed for the first six months of life. Breast milk is considered to be the most complete and suitable source of nutrition. However, if breastfeeding during this period is not possible, it is necessary to use formulas designed for infant initial feeding. Infants may be exposed to higher levels of microplastics through infant foods or plastic products.

It follows from the results of several studies, polypropylene feeding bottles, plastic packaging for baby food and plastic toys should be considered as potential sources of microplastics. Studies have found that infant formula prepared in a polypropylene bottle releases up to millions of microplastics. Polyamid content was higher in meconium than in placenta. The amount of microplastics in feces was higher in children who used to suck plastic toys.

There is still not enough data available for this study area. Therefore, it is necessary to pay increased attention to minimizing the negative effects of microplastics on human health. The microparticles, which are created by the degradation of plastics, have spread to all areas of the environment, with a negative impact on human health and the overall ecosystem. Our review is based on scientific studies to clarify the extent of the presence of microplastics in various aspects of life, including breast milk, baby bottles, toys, and milk forms.

Author(s) Details:

Csilla Mišľanová
Faculty of Nursing and Professional Health Studies, Institute of Nutrition, Slovak Medical University, 833 03, Bratislava, Slovakia

Martina Valachovičová
Faculty of Nursing and Professional Health Studies, Institute of Nutrition, Slovak Medical University, 833 03, Bratislava, Slovakia


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Recent Global Research Developments in Microplastics Through Infant Foods

Microplastics are small plastic particles measuring less than 5 mm. They have become a global concern due to their potential risks to human health. Infants, in particular, may face greater risks because they lack fully developed metabolizing enzymes, have limited ability to remove microplastics, and possess highly sensitive target organs. While breast milk is considered the most complete and suitable source of nutrition for infants, there are situations where breastfeeding is not possible during the first six months of life. In such cases, infant formulas designed for initial feeding become necessary.

Here are some key points from recent research:

Sources of Exposure:

  • Human Placenta: Microplastics can potentially cross the placental barrier and expose developing fetuses.
  • Plastic Feeding Bottles and Toys: Infants may be exposed to microplastics through plastic feeding bottles and toys.
  • Infant Feces, Breast Milk, and Formulas: Researchers have detected microplastics in infant feces, breast milk, and infant formulas.

Studies and Findings:

  • A study published in the journal Life highlighted the need for more data in this area [1].
  • Another study investigated the release of microplastics from breastmilk storage bags and assessed their potential intake by infants [2].
  • Researchers from Trinity College Dublin estimated that infants could ingest up to 4.5 million plastic particles per day when fed from polypropylene baby bottles [3].
  • Mass spectrometry analysis revealed that infants have more microplastics in their feces than adults.

Health Implications:

  • While the full health impact of microplastics on infants is still being studied, minimizing exposure is crucial.

References

  1. Mišľanová C, Valachovičová M, Slezáková Z. An Overview of the Possible Exposure of Infants to Microplastics. Life. 2024; 14(3):371. https://doi.org/10.3390/life14030371
  2. Sidharthan, Chinta. (2023, February 06). New insights into the release of microplastics from breastmilk storage bags. News-Medical. Retrieved on June 20, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/news/20230206/New-insights-into-the-release-of-microplastics-from-breastmilk-storage-bags.aspx.
  3. Study investigates microplastics release from baby bottleshttps://www.foodpackagingforum.org/news/study-investigates-microplastics-release-from-baby-bottles

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