Welcoming a baby is one of the happiest feelings ever. That feeling of hope even when the baby is not born yet will always be one of the best feelings parents ever experience in their lifetime. And of course, a healthy and perfect baby is the thing that they most expect.
Because of that hopeful feeling, any little thing happen to the baby would turn instantly into something stressful. Let alone when that ‘little thing’ is something unexplainable and unnatural. Do you need some examples?
In this story, the ‘little thing’ that happens to the unborn baby is something unimaginable even by researchers before. Recent analysis discovered microplastic particles in the placentas of unborn baby. This is the first time in human history such kind of thing ever discovered.
But how could microplastic break into a baby’s placenta? Will it become something normal in the future? In this article we are going to talk about it.
Microplastic In Our Stool
Microplastic is literally everywhere nowadays, and by that, we mean to tell you that it is literally everywhere. It can be found from the top of Everest to the deepest part of Mariana trench, let alone the things in between.
It has entered the bloodstream of fishes swimming in the ocean, and it can easily be found in the bodies of dead elephants in India. But what about in human bodies? Many researchers have discovered such kind of thing too.
In example, a group of researchers from Medical University of Vienna have conducted a study to learn more about human plastic ingestion. They collected the samples’ stool and examined it in the lab to find any signs of plastic ingestion.
Out of eight human samples, all of them showed plastic ingestion in their stool. The size of plastics was various starting from the grain of sand to the grain of rice. It shows that microplastic in human body is more than mere myth, but a fact we cannot deny.
“This is the first study of its kind and confirms what we have long suspected – that plastics ultimately reach the human gut. Of particular concern is what this means to us, and especially patients with gastrointestinal diseases,” said Dr Philipp Schwabl, the lead researcher of the study.
Plastic In Unborn Baby Placenta
One thing that needs to be pointed out, the people that researchers from Vienna used as samples were adult. They didn’t choose infant and children as samples because they wanted the ones that were supposedly exposed to microplastic more.
But newest study conducted by researchers in Rome discovered that age doesn’t matter. Even unborn babies are now proven to be exposed to microplastic. They found out that in the placenta, microplastic particles in different colors existed.
The researchers found 12 pieces of microplastic from analyzing 4% of the unborn baby’s placenta. Because they only analyzed small part of the baby’s placenta, researchers suggested that the actual number of microplastic pieces must be higher.
“All of them were pigmented; three were identified as stained polypropylene a thermoplastic polymer, while for the other nine it was possible to identify only the pigments, which were all used for man-made coatings, paints, adhesives, plasters, finger paints, polymers and cosmetics and personal care products,” as explained in the study published in Science Direct.
So, with the surprising discovery, what will happen to the unborn baby? Will it affect the growth of the baby or even something fatal? Well, even researchers said that there is an urgent need to assess the surprising issue immediately.
How Can It Affect The ‘Cyborg’ Baby?
The pieces of microplastic were around 10 microns in size or around 0.01 millimeters. This small size means that the pieces are able to enter bloodstream and being carried to the whole body of the mother, without exception.
The small particles of plastic might be ingested or breathed in by the mothers of the babies. However, the researchers still cannot determine what will happen to the baby with the presence of microplastic in such sensitive place.
What the researchers suggested was that microplastic is something unnatural and can be considered as radical particle in human body. One idea about the effect includes the possibility of microplastic to carry dangerous and harmful chemicals.
In case the harmful chemicals are released in the placenta, it may cause long term damage to the baby. Using this scenario, the best possible case is when the chemical released by microplastic particles ‘only’ upset the baby. However, it would still disrupt the fetus’ developing immune system.
“It is like having a cyborg baby: no longer composed only of human cells, but a mixture of biological and inorganic entities,” said director of obstetrics and gynecology at the San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli hospital in Rome, Antonio Ragusa.
Microplastic Problem Is Always Real
Looking on such shocking discovery might make us more alarmed about the dangers of microplastic. However, even without such kind of discovery, we are already at alarming condition of global microplastic pollution.
Formerly, researchers found dangerous sewage pathogens that were hitchhiking on plastic litter on some of Scotland’s bathing beaches. Dangerous pathogens such as E. Coli were discovered on the surface of floating microplastic particles.
Scientists began to worry that this phenomenon could have a far-reaching implication for human health globally. “The danger is that pathogens could be transported over large distances and survive for much longer than normal,” Dr. Richard Quilliam, the study’s principal investigator, said.
“When a pathogen is bound to a piece of plastic it’s going to be protected, as it can hide from things that normally kill it, like UV light,” Quilliam said. “Once you are sitting on a piece of plastic that is designed to be persistent for hundreds of years, and you are floating in the ocean currents, you have the opportunity to move great distances.”
Our plastic consumption nowadays keeps on increasing, as the severity of our global plastic pollution. It is our choice whether we want to make this world into a better place but reduce our convenience a little bit, or make it go the other way.