As infant feeding bottles are a common apparatus used to bottle-feed babies, researchers at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, had published a paper on 19 October 2020, revealing that infants around the world are consuming over 1.5 million microplastics every day.
According to the study that was titled “Microplastic release from the degradation of polypropylene feeding bottles during infant formula preparation”, large quantities of microplastics are being released in babies’ bottles, especially when the bottles are heated.
The study also noted that water with high temperature would be required to prepare the baby formula, and shaking the bottle for an average of one minute would increase the release of microplastics due to friction.
As reported by News Medical Life Sciences, previous studies had shown that adults and children in the United States are consuming between 74,000 and 211,000 microplastic particles in a year, although new studies suggested that the number could be higher.
The study carried out by the researchers at Trinity College found that up to 16 million particles per litre of 70°C water were released. The microparticles were found to be less than 20 micrometres in diameter and appeared flake-like under the microscope.
As the water temperature increased to 95°C, as much as 55 million polypropylene microplastics per litre were released. The team explained that the 95°C is the temperature of recently boiled water, which is also commonly used to prepare baby formula milk.
The team then estimated the potential exposure of 12-month-old infants to microplastics was 1,580,000 particles per capita over daily consumption.
Professor John Boland of Trinity College expressed that the research team had immediately recognised the potential impact of lab results. Explaining that they still do not have sufficient information on the potential consequences of microplastics in babies, he said that the “last thing” they want is to “unduly” alarm parents.
“When we saw these results in the lab we recognised immediately the potential impact they might have. The last thing we want is to unduly alarm parents, particularly when we don’t have sufficient information on the potential consequences of microplastics on infant health.”
Furthermore, the research team revealed that they were calling policymakers to reassess the current guidelines for formula preparation with the use of plastic feeding bottles.
With the intent to calm the public, Prof Boland added that it is possible to mitigate the risk of consuming microplastics by changing the procedures and practices of sterilisation as well as formula preparation.
“We are calling on policy makers, however, to reassess the current guidelines for formula preparation when using plastic infant feeding bottles. Crucially, we have found that it is possible to mitigate the risk of ingesting microplastics by changing practices around sterilisation and formula preparation.”