The chemicals we use to clean our home may be detrimental to our children's microbiome. Because of the known links to weight gain, as well as metabolic changes and the gut microbiome, it is possible that these chemicals are contributing to the obesity epidemic seen in children. A recent study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal looks at this topic.1
Study looked at the gastrointestinal flora (gut microbiome) of 757 infants
The study looked at the gastrointestinal flora (gut microbiome) of 757 infants from the general public (age 3-4 months). The weight of the children were measured at 1 and 3 years. Their exposure to disinfectants, detergents, and eco-friendly products used in the home were assessed.
Altered gut flora in 3-4 month old babies exposed to frequent use of disinfectants
Altered gut flora was most strongly associated in the 3-4 month old babies who were exposed to frequent use of disinfectants. They showed lower levels of Haemophilus and Clostridium bacteria but higher levels of Lachnospiraceae. An increase in Lachnospiraceae was also seen with increases in disinfectant use. The same associations were not seen with detergents and eco-friendly cleaners.
Disinfectants being used only weekly were seen to correlate with higher levels of Lachnospiraceae at age 3-4 months, as well as a body mass index that was higher than children not exposed. Babies in households using eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiomes than other children and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers.
"Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae. However, we found no evidence that these gut microbiome changes caused the reduced obesity risk," the researchers said.
Use of eco-friendly products may be a byproduct of an overall healthy way of living
The use of eco-friendly products may merely be a byproduct of an overall healthy way of living, including diet and more playful activities that would also affect healthy gut flora as well as weight of children.
'Study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition'
"Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight," write the authors. "Our study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of overweight in the same population."
- Moira K. Differding, Noel T. Mueller. Are household disinfectants microbially mediated obesogens? Canadian Medical Association Journal, 2018; 190 (37): E1095 DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.181134
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