Household cleaners may alter kids’ gut flora, contribute to being overweight

Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners were less likely to be overweight as toddlers

"We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age three-four months; when they were three years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant", said Anita Kozyrskyj, a University of Alberta pediatrics professor, and principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project, an investigation into how adjustment of the infant gut microbiome impacts health. When those children with higher levels of Lachnospiraceae were 3 years old, their body mass index (BMI) was higher than children who do not live in homes that frequently use disinfectants, the study also showed.

Anita Kozyrskyj, a U of A pediatrics professor and lead on the investigation into how adjustment of infant gut microbiome impact health says that the results have shown that infants who are living in households where disinfectants are used at least twice a week are likely to have higher levels of bacteria called Lachnospiraceae at three to four months of age.

The analysts additionally observed an expansion in Lachnospiraceae microscopic organisms with more successive cleaning with disinfectants. Those who came in contact with disinfectants were found to have the highest BMI scores at age 3, while those living with eco-friendly products saw an inverse trend.

The study's authors say that points to a connection between cleaning disinfectants and gut bacteria, but caution more research is needed to confirm a causal relationship.

"We found that infants living in households with disinfectants being used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at age three-four months; when they were three years old, their body mass index was higher than children not exposed to heavy home use of disinfectants as an infant", researcher Anita Kozyrskyj said.

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While the study highlighted the potentially harmful effects of household disinfectants such as multi-surface cleaners, no similar link was found with the use of detergents or eco-friendly products.

They say further studies should be conducted to look at whether the use of household disinfectants contributes to the causes of obesity through microbially related mechanisms.

The study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of increased weight in the same population. "Our "mediation" statistical analysis suggests that a gut microbiome enriched with Lachnospiraceae early in infancy was likely directly responsible for children becoming overweight or obese".

The study was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Children's exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products in the home was also measured using the mothers' responses to questionnaires. Dr. Kozyrskyj suggests these mothers may have generally healthier lifestyles, and eat more healthily during pregnancy, for example, so their children inherit a healthier microbiome. "I want to emphasize that our findings on the disinfectant use were at the higher end of use". Researchers tracked over 700 children for the study.

Representatives of the US cleaning products market said they were "disappointed at the sensational claims" made by the researchers. Microbiome adjustments attributable to some environmental components equivalent to antibiotic exhaust can change that microbiome, are usually transitory, and the smartly-liked childhood pattern is then resumed.

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