Microplastics in Placentas : Found in Pregnant Women

Microplastics in Placentas … Italian researchers have for the first time, found particles of pregnant women at Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome.

Microplastics in four of the six placentas studied. A first of its kind news is disturbing. In a study reported by Italian researchers found particles of microplastics in the placentas of pregnant women for the first time. Out of six placentas analyzed at Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome, four presented pieces of plastic.

The particles were found in the placenta, both on the mother’s side and on the fetal side, and in the membrane where it develops. A total of twelve plastic particles were found in the four placentas. But only around 4% of each placenta was analyzed, suggesting that the total amount of microplastics could be much higher.

Even more worryingly, the microplastics in placentas were blue, red, orange and pink in colour, which means they would come from packaging, paints or even hygiene and cosmetic products used by expectant mothers. Their size is said to be around 0.01 millimetres, which is to say small enough to circulate in the blood.

Impact on the growth of babies

“It’s like having a baby cyborg: it is no longer only made up of human cells, but of a mixture of biological and non-organic entities,” commented Antonio Ragusa, head of the obstetrics department of the hospital and study member at the Guardian. “The mothers were shocked.”

The subject is “of particular concern”, also judged the authors of the study in the scientific journal Environment International, where it appeared. In fact, the particles could carry chemicals that would have long-term consequences on babies’ health, especially on their growth and their immune system.

Microplastics in Placentas : Health Effects are Unknown

However, it is difficult for researchers to draw precise conclusions about fetal health for several reasons. On the one hand, the study was carried out on a meagre number of placentas. Additionally, the exact health impacts of microplastics are still unknown and require further research. This is why the authors stressed that “further studies” should be carried out before it is certain whether or not the presence of microplastics in placentas could result in “the release of toxic and harmful contaminants to health.”

Last October, a study conducted by Trinity College in Dublin revealed that babies swallowed millions of plastic microparticles per day when drinking their polypropylene bottles, a plastic often used in contact with food. But again, the authors explained that they did not know the health effects in their research and did not know whether the dose of microplastics posed a risk for babies’ health.