Microplastics are also found in the placenta of unborn babies

Gianluca Riccio


In fruit through irrigation, in our body through food and now also in newborns through the placenta. Microplastics are unstoppable.

For the first time, microplastic particles were detected in the placenta of pregnant mothers. Researchers find this cause for great concern.

The impact of microplastics on the body is still unknown. Scientists said they could carry chemicals capable of causing long-term damage or disrupting the development of the fetus's immune system. It is likely that the particles found in the placenta were consumed or inhaled by the mothers.

Today, Italian research has detected microplastic particles in the placentas of four healthy women with completely normal pregnancies. Microplastics have been detected on both the fetal and maternal sides of the placenta and in the membrane within which the fetus develops.

Microplastics in the placenta. Children are born "already polluted"

The research found a dozen plastic particles. However, it is only about 4% of each placenta was analyzed, suggesting that the total number of microplastics could be much higher. All the particles analyzed were plastics tinged with blue, red, orange or pink. They could originally come from packaging, paints or cosmetics and personal care products.

The microplastics were mostly 10 microns (0,01 mm) in size. Small enough to be carried in the bloodstream. The particles may have already entered the children's bodies, but the researchers have not been able to assess this.

“It's like having cyborg children. No longer composed only of human cells, but a mixture of biological and inorganic entities ”. TO tell è Anthony Ragusa, director of obstetrics and gynecology at the San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli hospital in Rome, among the authors of the research. “The mothers were shocked.”

A systematic review

The conclusions, in the study published in the journal Environment International, they are eloquent. “Due to the crucial role of the placenta in supporting fetal development and acting as an interface with the external environment, the presence of potentially harmful microplastics is a matter of great concern. Further studies are needed to evaluate whether the presence of microplastics in the placenta can trigger immune responses or can lead to the release of toxic contaminants, with consequent damage."

Potential effects of microplastics on fetuses include reduced fetal growth, they said. The particles were not found in the placenta from two other women in the study, which could be the result of a different physiology, diet, or lifestyle, the scientists say.

Microplastic pollution has reached every part of the planet, from the summit of Everest to the deepest oceans. People are already known to consume the tiny particles through food and water and breathe them.

Microplastics: they are now everywhere

The effect of microplastics on the body is unknown, but scientists have an urgent need to evaluate the problem, particularly for newborns, given the discovery of particles also in the placenta.

microplastics in the placenta
Microplastic pollution can take on the shape of a species threat.

In October, other studies have revealed that babies fed formula milk in plastic bottles swallow millions of particles a day. in 2019, researchers reported the discovery of air pollution particles on the fetal side of the placenta, indicating that unborn babies are also exposed to dirty air produced by car traffic and the burning of fossil fuels.

A separate recent study showed that inhaled plastic nanoparticles from pregnant laboratory mice were detected in the liver, lungs, heart, kidneys and brain of their fetuses.

The Italian researchers then used a plastic free protocol to deliver the babies, in order to prevent any contamination of the placentas. In the obstetrics ward, only cotton gloves were used to assist women in labor, and only cotton towels were used in the delivery room.

Andrew Shennan, professor of obstetrics at King's College London, found it reassuring that the mothers in the study had normal births, but "it is obviously preferable not to have foreign bodies during the baby's development."

The study is very small but reports a very worrying circumstance. We need a very quick study.