Heated Feeding Bottles May Expose Babies to Microplastics

New study shows that baby bottles used to give milk to children may in fact be exposing them to unwanted microplastics along with the nourishing formula. The scientists found that during formula preparation, high levels of microplastic particles are released from baby bottles.

In fact, the infants can be exposed to an average 1.6 million microplastic particles through baby formula they drink from heated milk plastic bottles daily. The study was published in the prestigious medical journal Nature.


It is important here to mention that scientists have not yet found out the immediate and long-term effects of this microplastic exposure in children.

One of the researchers on the team, Liwen Xiao, an assistant professor of civil, structural and environmental engineering at Trinity College Dublin in Ireland, explained “How the microplastics would affect the infants’ health is still an unknown. There is still no data available”.

Studies have shown that plastics shed micro and nano particles as they deteriorate. Data also shows that these particles are being exposed to humans in their daily life in huge amounts. The exposure can happen via the food chain or through the direct release of particles from plastic packaging or storage materials into our food.

Microplastics are just particles of size 5 millimeters or smaller. On the other hand, nanoplastic particles have a diameter of only 1 micron. For comparison, human hair is about 50 microns.

This is not the first time the scientific community has raised alarm over the ingestion of microplastics to humans. This year, other researchers have also found microscopic plastic particles in all the major organs of the human body like the lungs, liver, spleen and kidneys.

In the new study, researchers found that the release of these particles was closely related to the heat applied to the material from which plastic bottles are manufactured.

Polypropylene plastic baby bottles released up to 16.2 million microplastic particles per liter of liquid when sterilized and exposed to warm 158-degree Fahrenheit water.

When the bottles were heated up to 203 degrees Fahrenheit, the release of microplastics was up to 55 million particles per liter. The hotter the liquid inside a baby bottle, the more microplastics are released.

The research team recommended that in order to decrease the release of the plastics, the following steps should be taken by the parents:

  • Let the bottle cool down after sterilization and rinse it three times before use.
  • Prepare the bay formula in another container and then transfer it to the baby bottle.
  • Do not shake the bottle when you prepare the feed.
  • Never reheat the baby formula in the plastic bottle.

Scientists are still looking at whether these microplastics can have any bad effects on the health of the babies and adults. While they do so, they recommend that the use of plastics, especially the plastics that have to be heated up should be kept minimal.

Many also believe that such exposure may be the reason for the increasing number of cancer cases in the world.

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