Infants Exposed To 1.6M Particles Of Microplastics Per Day From Baby Bottles: Study

Heating a baby bottle may produce high levels of microplastics in the formula an infant is drinking, according to the findings of a new study.

Researchers from Trinity College Dublin warn that baby bottles made of polypropylene plastics release high levels of microplastics when heated, resulting in infants receiving an average of nearly 1.6 million microplastic particles every day.

In findings published last week in the journal Nature, researchers outlined the results of testing on 10 types of baby bottles, which accounted for 7 out of 10 types of bottles used around the world to feed infants.

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According to the report, baby bottles made of polypropylene-based plastic led to high levels of micro plastics in the infant formula, as much as 16.2 million particles per liter of liquid, when sterilized and then exposed to 158-degree Fahrenheit water.

If a bottle was exposed to water at 203 degrees Fahrenheit, the bottle released even greater levels of microplastics; as much as 55 million particles per liter. The hotter the liquid inside the baby bottle, the more microplastics are degraded and released.

Overall, the researchers determined infants are exposed to an average daily dose of nearly 1.6 million microplastic particles from consuming baby formula from heated plastic baby bottles.

The study surveyed 48 regions, finding microplastic release levels ranging from 14,600 to 4.5 million particles per capita per day depending on the region.

Other studies have found humans are consuming more and more microplastics over time. A study published in August found microplastics  in all major human organs. Simply drinking water from plastic bottles, instead of reusable containers, adds 90,000 microplastic particles to the human diet every year.

No studies have successfully determined the potential health impact of microparticle consumption, even though microplastic particles are frequently in food packaging, such as from drink bottles, plastic utensils, plastic cups, and plastic storage bags and containers, which then end up inside the human body after regular consumption habits.

It is nearly impossible to completely stop ingesting microplastics, but consumers can focus on reducing the amount their infants take in from baby bottles, researchers say. Steps they can take include:

Preparing infant formula in a non-plastic container, then transfering it into a baby bottle after it has cooled to room temperature.

  • Not shaking the formula in the bottle at any time.
  • Not reheating prepared formula in plastic containers.
  • Allowing the bottle to cool after sterilization.
  • Rinsing the bottle it at least three times before using it.

Researchers emphasize the urgent need to assess whether exposure to microplastics at these levels pose a risk to human health, and in the context of the most recent study, to infant health and development.

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