Plastics pose broad health risks for babies, report reveals

By Shannon Kelleher

Everyday plastics may affect many major organs in babies and young children, posing a wide variety of serious health risks as they develop, according to a new report that reviewed 120 recent studies.

Evidence shows potential links between babies’ exposure to plastics and their risk for developing cancer, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and other conditions that may arise when the endocrine system is disrupted, according to the report, which was published this month by the environmental group EARTHDAY.ORG.

Microplastics – bits of plastics smaller than 5 millimeters (microplastics) – have also been found in the human placenta, disrupting communication between a fetus and the mother’s body.

“This isn’t just a simple issue,” said Tom Cosgrove, Chief Creative and Content Officer at EARTHDAY.ORG. “It’s big, the impacts are really broad, and it’s going to take a serious global commitment to get us through this and figure out how we can get to the other side.”

The report was published ahead of a meeting of delegates from 150 countries in Nairobi, Kenya, which discussed details of a Global Plastics Treaty to curb plastic waste. The deliberations, which concluded on November 19, reportedly made little progress towards finalizing the treaty. While the oil and gas industry advocated for recycling and waste management to control plastic pollution, critics say the treaty must curtail the amount of plastic produced in the first place.