This is a particularly concerning finding. Italian researchers recently identified a series of synthetic substances when analyzing samples of severely reduced placental tissue.
As part of this work presented in the review Environment International, researchers fromFatebenefratelli hospital in Rome and thePolytechnic University of Marche analyzed the placenta of several women and noted for the first time the presence of microplastics. Although the latter did not experience complications during childbirth and the exact health effects of these fragments (which can be found all the way to the summit of Everest) remain unknown, experts believe that the The harmful chemicals they contain could impact the immune system of the developing fetus.
Twelve microplastic fragments were found in four of the six placenta samples analyzed, collected after childbirth. However, only 3% of the tissue from each placenta was removed, suggesting that the total number of these microparticles could be much higher. According to the research team, all of the fragments were pigmented.
” Three have been identified as dyed polypropylene, a thermoplastic polymer “, Note the researchers. ” While for the other nine, it was possible to identify only the pigments, used for the manufacture of coatings, paints, adhesives, plasters, finger paints, polymers and cosmetics and care products.. “
The placenta, interface between the fetus and the external environment
Inside human cells, microplastics are treated like foreign bodies, which can trigger localized immune responses. According to the researchers, these tiny fragments may also contain other chemicals (including environmental pollutants and plastic additives) known to have harmful effects and may be released in the body.
” The presence of plastic in the body disrupts the immune system “, Advance Antonio Ragusa, lead author of the study. ” It was surprising to find microplastics in the human placenta for the first time. It’s like having a baby cyborg, which is no longer made up of just human cells, but a mixture of a biological entity and inorganic entities.. ”
” Due to the crucial role of the placenta in supporting the development of the fetus and in its role of interface between the latter and the external environment, the presence of plastic particles, exogenous and potentially harmful, is of great concern. », Continues the researcher.
A strict protocol
In order to ensure that the placentas studied by the scientists were not contaminated with microplastics during the various manipulations, a plastic-free environment was maintained throughout the experiment.
Obstetricians and midwives used cotton gloves to assist women during childbirth. Only cotton towels were used to cover the patient beds, and the umbilical cord was pinched and severed with metal pliers, to avoid contact with the plastic. Pathologists also wore cotton gloves and used metal scalpels.