There’s Greater than Milk in That Child Bottle
Microplastics. Microplastics, defined as pieces of plastic the size of a sesame or smaller, have been found in the indoor and outdoor air, muscles of fish, and drinking water.
Microplastics (MP) are created by plastic waste that disintegrates or decomposes. And while researchers don’t know the effects of MPs on human health, authors of one study say we need to find out.
Researchers at Trinity College Dublin (Ireland) measured the number of MPs in baby food after the formula was made according to World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines. They then estimated how many MPs might ingest 12-month-old babies through plastic bottles. The numbers varied across the 48 regions studied worldwide, but showed that infant exposure to microplastics is higher than previously thought.
Bottle-fed babies in North America could drink more than 2 million MP particles every day, the study found. To put that number in perspective, a 2019 study published in Environmental Science and Technology estimated that the average person ingests between 39,000 and 52,000 MP particles each year.
The Trinity College study found that sterilizing baby bottles, then adding hot water and vigorously shaking the bottles released much higher numbers of MPs than if the sterilized bottles were filled with formula at room temperature.
There are things parents can do to keep some MPs off their baby’s formula, study author John Boland, PhD, said in a Trinity College article. The article included the following steps to create a formula to limit the number of MPs released from plastic baby bottles.
Sterilizing the baby bottles:
- Follow WHO guidelines for sterilizing bottles.
- Then boil water in a glass or stainless steel container and let the water cool to room temperature.
- Use the chilled water to rinse the sterilized bottle at least three times.
- To make the formula, heat water to at least 158 F in a glass or stainless steel container.
- Mix the measured formula with the heated water and then cool the formula to room temperature.
- Pour the room temperature formula into the sterilized and rinsed bottle.
- Never use a microwave to heat the formula. Microwaves can create “hot spots” that can burn a baby’s mouth.
- Do not warm the formula in plastic bottles or shake the bottles vigorously.
Take them home
Scientists may not know how microplastics affect our children’s health, but parents can limit their baby’s exposure to MPs by following the steps above when making baby formula.