New research found infants have 10 times more concentration of microplastics in their poop than adults.
Microplastics are fragments of any type of plastic less than 5 mm in length, according to the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the European Chemicals Agency. They cause pollution by entering natural ecosystems from a variety of sources, including cosmetics, clothing, and industrial processes.
The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, focused on two types of common microplastics—polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate (PC)—and measured feces from six infants and 10 adults. They also looked at three samples of newborns’ first waste, which is known as meconium. All were from New York state, and they were all found to have at least one kind of microplastic, reports Common Dreams.
While PC levels were similar between the infant and the adult, PET microplastics were found 10 times more in children.
“We need to make efforts to reduce exposure in children. Children’s products should be made free of plastics,” says ead author Kurunthachalam Kannan, a professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine’s Department of Pediatrics.
According to EcoWatch, a study published last year found that the process of preparing baby formula in plastic bottles prompted those bottles to shed microplastics, so that infants could be swallowing millions of microplastics every day. Microplastics have also been found in the placenta, as The Guardian reported in 2020. Babies also have a tendency to stick plastic toys or clothing that may contain microplastic fibers in their mouths, Wired noted. Baby foods are often wrapped in plastic and many baby utensils, like sippy cups, are made from plastic. The indoor environment is also full of plastics from carpeting and dust.
“Unfortunately, with the modern lifestyle, babies are exposed to so many different things for which we don’t know what kind of effect they can have later in their life,” continues Kannan.