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If you’ve ever had the job of changing a baby diaper, you know that it can hold some unexpected items. Most of us try to avoid the job, and it is a constant source of conversation among parents.

Perhaps it is a good source of conversation, and something that all of us should be considering, because researchers have now found a lot of plastic in your baby’s diaper. No, I’m not talking about the diaper itself, which is a different type of plastic. I’m talking about microplastics that they are discovering in great measure in baby poop.

Photo: Max Pixel

Environmental Science & Technology Letters is where they published the study from New York University School of Medicine scientists. In order to take part in the study, you had to be a one-year-old infant and there were only six children selected.

After collecting the poop from the baby diaper, they ran it through a filter so any microplastics could be trapped. What they found was an average of 36,000 ng of polyethylene terephthalate in every gram of feces. That type of plastic, which is usually referred to as PET, is relatively common.

Photo: flickr/Oregon State University

When they compared the amount of PET in baby poop with what they found in adult poop (yes they had to do that too), there was 10 times more plastic in the baby’s feces than in adult waste. It is thought that a baby is exposed to some 83,000 ng of PET per kilo of body weight on a daily basis.

It’s not very surprising that we would find PET in poop. After all, it is everywhere in the world around us, from baby formula bottles to carpet fiber. Clothing, bedding, and almost everything else that comes in contact with a baby every day also contains plastics.

Photo: Max Pixel

Little babies also tend to explore the world around them, primarily by putting things in their mouths. Just drinking out of a bottle would expose the baby to a considerable amount of plastic. When they are inhaling and swallowing plastic all day long, it is obvious we will find it in the excrement.

There was also other poop examined in the study, including 10 adults and three newborn children. The study on the newborn children was not quite as large and maybe not statistically significant, but the six-month-old infant still had more PET than the other groups.

Photo: flickr/Marco Verch Professional Photographer

Microplastics are full of chemicals, some of which are potentially harmful. There is still a lot to learn about those chemicals and about microplastics as well. Having too much in your system can lead to the accumulation of heavy metals and may interrupt various systems in the body, leading to long-term problems.

Now that you know the difficulty is there, you can get busy doing something about it. One way you can reduce plastic is by not heating a bottle when you warm up the formula. You can also use a glass bottle and get rid of the PET altogether. You might also want to avoid food that came wrapped in a plastic container. It would be impossible to get rid of all of it, but each little step helps.

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