Microplastics have been found in the placentas of expecting mums, with researchers claiming it’s like have a ‘cyborg baby’ no longer made up of only human cells.
The scientists say that microplastics, which are tiny particles of plastic that pollute the environment, may have long-term impacts on human health, including the immune system and development.
For the study, six human placentas were collected from women who had healthy pregnancies and births and analysed for microplastics. What the researchers found was 12 microplastic fragments in four of the mums’ placentas – some identified as coming from paints, adhesives, plasters and personal care products. And given only around four percent of each placenta was analysed, it’s possible the amount of microplastic was actually higher.
It’s like having a cyborg baby
The researchers say it’s the first time man-made particles have been found in the human placenta, with first author of the study and director of Uoc Obstetrics and Gynecology Fatebenefratelli Antonio Ragusa saying the mums involved were shocked.”With the presence of plastic in the body, the immune system is disturbed, which recognises as ‘self’ (itself) even what is not organic. It is like having a cyborg baby: no longer composed only of human cells, but a mixture of biological and inorganic entities,” he told la Rebubblica.
The study found that microplastics carry substances that act as endocrine disruptors – chemicals that are linked with developmental, reproductive, brain, immune and other problems. The study concluded that due to the crucial role played by the placenta, the presence of microplastics is, ‘a matter of great concern’.
“Further studies need to be performed to assess if the presence of MPs in the human placenta may trigger immune responses or may lead to the release of toxic contaminants, resulting in harm for pregnancy.”