Traces of microplastic found in fetuses
Italian researchers have discovered these particles in various fetuses. These microplastics have been consumed or inhaled by pregnant mothers.
It is a discovery that questions. For the first time, Italian researchers have found microplastic particles in the placentas of pregnant women.
Of six placentas tested at the Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome, Italy, four contained pieces of plastic. While the health impact of microplastics is not well understood at this time, scientists hypothesize that they may transport chemicals that can cause long-term damage or disrupt the immune system in the developing fetus.
As The Guardian reports, pregnant women most likely consumed or inhaled the particles. All the particles were found in the placentas of four healthy women who had normal pregnancies and deliveries.
Specifically, these microplastics have been detected on the fetal and maternal sides of the placenta and on the membrane within which the fetus develops. The findings of this study were published in the journal Environment International.
In total, about ten plastic particles were found. However, only about 4% of each placenta was analyzed, suggesting that the total amount of microplastics could be even higher. Another worrying fact, the analyzed particles were plastics dyed blue, red, orange or pink. These can come from packaging, paints or cosmetic products.
What immune responses?
Microplastics were mostly 10 microns (0.01 mm) in size, so they are small enough to be carried by the bloodstream. So far, researchers have not determined whether these particles have entered the bodies of babies.
"Due to the crucial role of the placenta in supporting fetal development and in acting as an interface with the external environment, the presence of potentially harmful plastic particles is a matter of great concern. Further studies should be conducted to assess whether the presence of microplastics it can trigger immune responses or lead to the release of toxic pollutants, resulting in damage, "the authors of this study concluded. If, for the moment, the effect on the body is unknown, it is urgent to evaluate the problem, especially at the level of childrens health.