A recent study found that plastic baby bottles may expose babies to thousands or even millions of particles of microplastics per day, which is even higher than previously thought.
The study, published in Nature Food, showed levels of microplastic exposure significantly higher than the researchers expected. Dr. Jing Jing Wang is a study co-author and a scientist at the AMBER Research Centre and Centre for Research on Adaptive Nanostructures and Nanodevices at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland. In an interview with TODAY Parents, he said no one expected the very high levels of microplastics they found, and there’s no real way to know right now just how those high levels can affect a baby’s health.
Plastic baby bottles make up over 80% of the worldwide baby bottle market. Dr. Wang said they’re not looking to worry parents and want to communicate as strongly as they can that the potential health risks of infant ingestion of microplastics are not known, but…come on. Babies ingesting microplastics?
Do we all need to be neuroscientists to realize that can NOT be good for baby (or the earth)?
Studies on the impact of microplastics on the health of animals like fish and mice have already shown digestive disturbances and brain damage and Dr. Wang noted that the results of the study suggest that taking steps to remedy microplastic release are imperative.
Microplastics are smaller than a sesame seed and can be harmful to ocean and marine life. They’ve also been detected in human stool.
Polypropylene is the typical type of plastic that is used to make baby bottles, and it can release microplastics when heated or shaken, according to study findings. Researchers imitated the steps a parent would take to prepare a baby bottle of formula following the cleaning, sterilizing and mixing procedures the World Health Organization recommends. After, they measured the amount of microplastic particles in the liquid inside.
What they found shocked them: The bottles made with Polypropylene leak an average of 4 million microplastic particles per liter of liquid. This is about a quart. When the bottles were exposed to high-temperature water, it significantly increased the release of the microplastics.
The researchers estimated that the average microplastics exposure for a baby fed with a traditional baby bottle was more than 1.5 million particles a day. This is 2,600 times that of an adult, and infants in North America and Europe consumed even more plastic bits as plastic is a preferred bottle material due to its weight and convenience.