For the first time, microplastic particles have been found in the placenta of women after giving birth

Experts fear that the chemicals present in the plastic may interfere with their development of babies.

Scientists have discovered microplastic particles in the placenta of women after they gave birth. The researchers have said it is a matter of "great concern." However, women volunteers who were involved in the study had no problems with their pregnancies and the effect of their babies are not known. But experts fear that the chemicals present in the plastic may interfere with their development. The study was published in Science Direct.

The study authors found 12 microplastic fragments in four placentas from a study of six that were donated by women after the birth of their child. Of the placenta donated, only 3 percent of it was sampled, suggesting that the total microplastic pieces could actually be much higher.

The study essentially sheds new light on the level of human exposure to MPs and microparticles in general and shows possible consequences on pregnancy outcomes and foetus from plasticiser on metabolism and reproduction.


Image: Science Direct

The schematic illustration for the overall concept and experimental procedure. Image: Science Direct

"From each placenta, three portions with a mean weight of 23.3 ± 5.7 g were collected from the maternal side, the foetal side and the chorioamniotic membranes. All portions were opportunely processed for the subsequent analysis by Raman Microspectroscopy," the study found.

"This is the first study revealing the presence of pigmented microplastics and, in general, of man-made particles in human placenta. The presence of pigments in all analysed MPs is explained by the wide use of these compounds to colour not only plastic products, but also paints and coatings, which are as ubiquitous as MPs. For example, the pigment Iron hydroxide oxide yellow is used for coloration of polymers (plastics and rubber) and in a wide variety of cosmetics, such as BB creams and foundations; copper phthalocyanine and phthalocyanine are used for staining of plastic materials, and for finger paints; the pigment violanthrone is used especially for textile (cotton/polyester) dyeing, coating products, adhesives, fragrances and air fresheners; the pigment Ultramarine blue is mainly applied in cosmetics, for example for formulations of soap, lipstick, mascara, eye shadow and other make-up products," the research reads.

Speaking to the publication, Dr Antonia Ragusa from the Uoc Obstetrics and Gynaecology Fatebenefratelli hospital in Rome where the research was conducted he was astonished when he saw the microplastics in placenta, adding that if something is found in the placenta, it is found in the baby as well.

"It's like having a cyborg baby: it is no longer made up of just human cells but a mixture of biological and inorganic materials," the researcher revealed.

The research, which was published in the scientific journal Environment International, saw Dr Ragusa further add that the particles in the placenta could actually affect how the child's genes are expressed.

The Raman analysis of MPs was performed at the Laboratory of Vibrational Spectroscopy, Department of Life and Environmental Sciences, Università Politecnica delle Marche (Ancona, Italy).

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