Researchers at the University of New Mexico discovered microplastics in placentas

ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – It’s an alarming finding linked to pregnancy in new research led by the University of New Mexico. The scientists found trace amounts of plastic in 100% of the human placentas they tested. “Plastics were easy to find, maybe that was the part that worried us,” said Matthew Campen, of the UNM Department of Pharmaceutical Sciences.

After three years of research led by scientists at UNM, the alarming discovery was made by researchers quantifying tiny plastic particles found in human placentas. “It’s a lot. “It’s really obvious that these particles have embedded themselves in the placenta,” Campen said.

Each of the 62 placentas they tested contained between 6.5 and about 685 micrograms of microplastics per gram of tissue. Microplastics are man-made materials that cannot be seen by the human eye and do not break down easily.

“It’s not necessarily the bottle we’re drinking from now or the fork we’re using. What it does, once it gets into that landfill, it starts to degrade, eventually it’s back into our food ecosystem,” said Marcus Garcia, UNM postdoctoral fellow.

“There was so much plastic in tissue that was only eight months old, imagine what you have in other parts of your body as an adult,” Campen said.

The amount the researchers found is equivalent to one drop of water per placenta. The researchers say the findings show how much plastic is in the environment, and they warn that more research is needed on how plastic affects the human body.

Scientists warn that the health of a placenta can make a big difference in a baby’s overall development. “That doesn’t mean plastics are known to be a cause, but if they affect how the placenta grows, they affect how the placenta functions. If the placenta doesn’t grow enough, it can’t provide nutrients to the growing baby,” Campen said.

UNM says it is continuing the study with Baylor College of Medicine and will soon look closely at the diet of expectant mothers to see how that may play a role.

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