Find microplastics in the human placenta

Find microplastics in the human placenta

Microplastics are in the food we eat, in the water we drink, even in the human placenta. An Italian research team discovered it.


Microplastics, an environmental emergency

We know that microplastics are one of the environmental emergencies of our times. These tiny plastic particles come from the degradation of larger plastic objects, or from washing synthetic garments and abrasion of tires. Or from all those products in which they have been added ad hoc, such as scrubs and toothpastes.

Due to their diameter between 330 micrometers and 5 millimeters, they escape the common filter systems and end up in the seas. The UN estimates that the waters contain 51 trillion , as the number of stars in our galaxy multiplied by 500.

Swallowed by fish, microplastics inevitably end up in our food chain . They have been found in beer , honey , sugar , tap water, table salt , human feces. 

Our children begin to swallow them already along with milk , warns a recent article published by the scientific journal Nature Food. This is because they are released from the high temperatures necessary to sterilize the bottle and prepare the milk powder.

There was not even time to metabolize the sensation aroused by this discovery and another one has already arrived, this time with an Italian signature: microplastics are also present in the human placenta .

The placenta also contains microplastics

The obstetrics and gynecology team of the Fatebenefratelli-Isola Tiberina hospital in Rome, in collaboration with the Polytechnic University of Marche in Ancona, examined the placenta of six volunteers . All had given birth naturally at the end of a physiological pregnancy .

Through a test called Raman microspectroscopy, the researchers identified 12 fragments of microplastic in four organs . In three cases it was polypropylene , the material used to produce bottles and caps. The other nine fragments were microplastics coated with pigments used for paints, adhesives, plasters, nail polish, cosmetics, and so on.

The results of the study were published in the scientific journal Environment International .

The consequences for the fetus are still unknown

In the light of these evidences, some questions spontaneously arise . If microplastics are present in the placenta, does this mean that they are also transmitted to the fetus? If so, are there any health risks?


Science does not yet have certain answers for these questions, explains Dr. Antonio Ragusa , first author of the study and director of the complex operating unit of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the Fatebenefratelli hospital – Isola Tiberina in Rome.


The presence of microplastics in the fetus – he explains – is plausible, but should be proven by ad hoc studies . As well as the health consequences. “We already know from other international studies that plastics can, for example, alter the metabolism of fats,” she says. 


“Furthermore, the placenta and the amniotic menbrane are the environment that guarantees the formation of the self and the identification of what is different from the self”, he concludes. “Where the fetus in its development identifies the synthetic material as part of itself, the presence of plastics in the prenatal environment could actually alter the balance in the responses that the child’s immune system adopts towards the external environment, modifying the delicate epigenetic phenomena 

You May Also Like

More From Author

+ There are no comments

Add yours