How do nanoparticles harm a developing fetus or embryo?
which means they are tens of thousands of times smaller than the diameter of a human hair.
Despite their usefulness, nanoscale materials are poorly understood, with little known about their potential effects on human health and the environment.
“The particles are small and really hard to find“, said Phoebe Stapleton, an author and an assistant professor at Rutgers Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy and faculty member at the Rutgers Institute of Occupational and Environmental Health Sciences.
In the new study, researchers were able to track the movement of nanoparticles made of metal titanium dioxide through the bodies of pregnant mice.
After the nanoparticles were inhaled into the rodents’ lungs, some of them broke out of this initial barrier. From there, the particles flow across the placenta, often filtering out foreign substances to protect the fetus.
During the test, the scientists were also surprised to find titanium dioxide in a group of “control” mice that were not allowed to inhale the nanoparticles. It turns out that the food given to the animals contained titanium dioxide. As a result, the researchers were able to observe the path the metal took through the body of a mouse.
The research emerged from investigations into the causes of low birth weight in babies. Infants weighing less than 5.5 pounds can experience adverse health effects as infants and throughout their lives.
According to the researchers, one theory is that mothers with low birth weight babies may have inhaled harmful particles. As a result, inflammation can affect body systems, such as blood flow in the uterus, which can inhibit fetal growth.
Knowing that nanoparticles travel from the mother’s lungs to the placenta and fetal tissues will help inform future studies on exposure during pregnancy, fetal health and development. of disease.