Microplastic particles were found in the placenta of four women who had normal pregnancies and births. The discovery was made by researchers at San Giovanni Calibita Fatebenefratelli Hospital in Rome.
The particles were found on both sides of the placenta and in the chorioamniotic membranes. In total, 12 pieces of plastic were found among the four women. Only four per cent of each placenta was analysed, so it’s possible the total number of foreign bodies could be higher.
The researchers hypothesised the microplastics may have come from packaging, paints, or cosmetics that were either used, consumed, or inhaled by the mothers.
Previous studies have found microplastics in food, sea salt, and drinking water, but this is the first time they have reportedly been found in a human placenta — this discovery might point to broader contamination of the environment with microplastics.