Researchers in Ireland have found that bottle-fed babies may ingest more than a million pieces of microplastics each day.
According to the authors of the new study that was published in the ‘Nature Food’ journal, the result of the research highlighted the abundance of plastics in food products.
To conduct the study, the researchers looked at the rate of microplastic released in 10 types of baby bottles or accessories made from polypropylene, the most commonly used plastic for food containers, following official guidelines from the World Health Organisation on sterilisation and formula preparation conditions.
The ‘Medical Xpress’ reported that over a 21-day test period, the researchers found that the bottles released between 1.3 and 16.2 million plastic microparticles per litre.
They then used this data to model the potential global infant exposure to microplastics from bottle-feeding, based on national average rates of breast-feeding.
They estimated that the average bottle-fed baby could be ingesting 1.6 million plastic microparticles every day during the first 12 months of their lives.
The authors said that sterilisation and exposure to high water temperatures had the biggest effect on microplastic release, going from 0.6 million particles per litre on average at 25C to 55 million/litre at 95C.
The research team from Trinity College in Dublin, said: “We have communicated, as strongly as we can, that we do not know the potential health risks of infant ingestions of microplastics.”
The authors noted that it was in developed nations that babies were likely ingesting the most plastic, 2.3 million particles daily in North America and 2.6 million in Europe. They attributed this to relatively low breast-feeding rates in richer countries.
Similarly, the research team also said that the level of microplastics ingestion could easily be lowered by taking a few additional steps, including rinsing bottles with cold sterilised water and preparing formula milk in a non-plastic container before filling the bottle.