Written by: Jessie

Do you know that scientists have found evidence that humans inhale, eat and drink microplastics …

Microplastics in milk bottles

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Do you know that scientists have found evidence that humans inhale, eat and drink microplastics every year? And these microplastics are also found in our baby’s feeding bottles! Are microplastics from milk bottles, a health threat for our babies?

In this article, here’s what parents should know about microplastics in milk bottles and ways to reduce its exposure to our baby.

What is microplastics in milk bottles?

As parents, when we hear about the term “microplastic” (such as scary thought), we feel concerned about its health impact on our baby. Microplastics are tiny plastic particles or fragments released from the plastic bottles due to degradation. Baby bottles are commonly made of Polypropylene (PP) plastics and PP is known to release microplastics when it is in contact with high temperature water and by shaking (due to friction).

Microplastics in milk bottles

Risk to human

According to The Guardian, 82% of the bottles in the world market is made of polypropylene bottles and this type of material is commonly used plastic which produces millions of microplastics per liter of liquid. Due to its small size, microplastics has high potential to enter and accumulate in our body system through ingestion and inhalation.

According to The Guardian article, “The health impact of microplastics in the body is as yet unknown. But scientists said they could carry chemicals that could cause long-term damage.”

The scientists believe there are 3 main concerns about the risk of microplastics to our body system.

  • effect on human physiology
  • combine with toxic chemical such as heavy metal, into our body system
  • carry pathogen into our body system

Microplastics in the environment are known to contaminate human food and water, and they also harm oceans and marine species. Studies show that food preparation in plastic containers, especially with high temperatures, can lead to higher exposure.

We cannot avoid using plastics in our daily life. Therefore, we are unknowingly consuming microplastics if we are not careful. Our babies will also be exposed to it as all mothers need to rely on feeding bottles sometimes.

So, what should we do?

Microplastics in milk bottles

Here are what we can do to reduce the microplastics released into breastmilk or formula milk when we prepare the milk bottle. 4 simple ways to do it.

1. Nipple – Start with a clear silicone nipple because latex rubber can cause an allergic reaction.

2. Bottle – choose glass bottles (some come with soft silicone cover to prevent breakages). Alternatives bottles such as silicone and stainless steel are not as common as glass and plastics bottles.

You may also choose high quality plastics bottle which is BPA free ( avoid the recycling no. 7 on the base as many contain BPA) and has high temperature resistance (up to 208oC) such as a medical grade plastics called polyphenylsulfone (PPSU) are now very common in the market for baby milk bottles.

3. Formula preparation and bottle cleaning procedure – Baby feeding bottles shall be cleaned and sterilized after use. Always follow cleaning, sterilizing and storing baby bottles guide from WHO. Experts suggest an additional step can cut the microplastics produced during usual formula preparation.

ProcessProcedures
Formula preparation1. Prepare hot water from non plastic kettle.
2. Prepare infant formula in a non-plastic container using at least 70oC water. Cool to room temperature and transfer prepared formula into a high-quality plastic infant feeding bottle
Sterilization of milk bottle1. Follow procedure of sterilization from WHO and allow to cool
2. Prepare sterilized water by boiling in a non-plastics kettle
3. Rinse the sterilized bottles with the cooled sterilized water at least 3 times again before they are ready to be used
Other precaution 1. Do not reheat prepared formula in plastic containers and avoid microwave ovens
2. Do not vigorously shake the formula in the bottle at any time
3. Do not use sonication to clean plastic infant feeding bottles
Derived from  “High levels of microplastics released from infant feeding bottles during formula prep”phys.org. Retrieved 9 November 2020.

4. Replacement of bottles – Once the feeding bottles or teats are cracked or discolored, replace them immediately.

I used plastic baby bottles because it’s lightweight and convenient. As a mother, should I feel bad that I choose to use plastic bottles? Look at what experts have to say about this.

  • According to Prof Oliver Jones of RMIT University Melbourne, “We should not be making parents feel bad for using plastic bottles.” Glass bottles are often more expensive, and not all mothers are aware that micro-plastic in milk bottles exist.
  • In the recent study published in Nature Food, it was found out that infants can be exposed to thousands or even millions of particles of micro-plastics per day – not just from their feeding bottles. Kettle, lunchbox and other plastic ware products will also release microplastics.
  • Dr. Jing Jing Wang said, “Our aim is not to worry parents, and we have communicated as strongly as we can that we do not know the potential health risks of infant ingestion of micro-plastics from milk bottles. This is a new and rapidly evolving area of research, and the data on the potential impact on human health is not yet developed.”
  • The level of microplastics can be reduced by following additional step after sterilization and modified formula preparation. This is a study led by to Dr. Jing Jing Wang, Professor John Boland and Professor Liwen Xiao at Trinity, the team analyzed the potential for release of microplastics from polypropylene infant-feeding bottles during formula preparation by following international guidelines. 

Conclusion

If we still favor plastic bottles for our baby milk bottles? No problem at all. We may choose high quality baby bottles made of PPSU plastics (naturally BPA free) and follow additional step for sterilization and formula preparation.

We can be assured that our baby will be less exposed to microplastics as well as toxic chemicals which are potentially leached into the breastmilk or formula milk if we are not careful.

Share with us your opinion about the baby bottles, do you do the same method as i did?

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