Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

a baby eats

"Human exposure to microplastics is a health concern," said Kurunthachalam Kannan, lead author of a new study. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Baby Poop Has Ten Times More Microplastic in It Than Adult Poop: Study

"The future is going to wonder what on earth we thought we were doing with plastic."

Andrea Germanos

Infants have an average of 10 times the concentration of a type of microplastic in their poop than adults, a pilot study released Wednesday found.

The research, published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology Letters, follows previous studies reflecting the ubiquity of microplastics—small fibers less than 5 mm in size originating from everyday objects like plastic bottles and polyester clothing and that end up in the planet's waterways and human guts.

"Human exposure to microplastics is a health concern," said lead author Kurunthachalam Kannan, a professor at the NYU Grossman School of Medicine's Department of Pediatrics.

Researchers focused on two types of common microplastics—polyethylene terephthalate (PET) and polycarbonate (PC)—and measured feces from six infants and 10 adults. They also looked at three samples of newborns' first waste, which is known as meconium. All were from New York state, and they were all found to have at least one kind of microplastic.

PC levels, the researchers found, were similar between the infant and adult groups. PET concentrations, however, revealed a stark difference, with those in infants' feces found to have levels more than 10 times higher on average.

"Our study suggests that infants are exposed to higher levels of MPs than adults," the scientists wrote.

Researchers suggested the higher concentrations could be a result of products they commonly use like teethers and bottles but said larger studies should be done.

"We need to make efforts to reduce exposure in children," Kannan said. "Children's products should be made free of plastics."

Responding to the study, Natalie Bennett, a former Green Party leader in the U.K., tweeted, "The future is going to wonder what on earth we thought we were doing with plastic."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'Love Wins Again': Senate Passes Bill to Protect Same-Sex and Interracial Marriage

"While Congress has taken an important step," said the head of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, "it is incumbent on all of us to continue to push for passage of the comprehensive Equality Act."

Jessica Corbett ·


Groups Blast Biden for 'Siding With Billionaires Over Rail Workers'

As criticism of the president's position mounts, some members of Congress are speaking out in support of including at least seven days of paid sick leave in any measure they pass.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Very Good Day for Our Republic' as Key Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy

"Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible," said one former federal prosecutor after Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Report Advises 'Urgent Action' to Combat Slavery in Clean Energy Supply Chains

"We need to see industry, government, the financial sector, and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·

Common Dreams Logo