Household cleaning products may contribute to kids' overweight by altering their gut microbiota

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Commonly used household cleaners could be making children overweight by altering their gut microbiota, suggests a Canadian study published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal).

The study analyzed the of 757 infants from the general population at age 3-4 months and weight at ages 1 and 3 years, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.

Researchers from across Canada looked at data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort on microbes in infant fecal matter. They used World Health Organization growth charts for body mass index (BMI) scores.

Associations with altered gut flora in babies 3-4 months old were strongest for frequent use of household disinfectants such as multisurface cleaners, which showed lower levels of Haemophilus and Clostridium bacteria but higher levels of Lachnospiraceae. The researchers also observed an increase in Lachnospiraceae bacteria with more frequent cleaning with disinfectants. They did not find the same association with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners. Studies of piglets have found similar changes in the when exposed to aerosol disinfectants.

"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 3-4 months; when they were 3 years old, their 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 alteration of the infant gut microbiome impacts health.

Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota 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," she said.

She suggests that the use of eco-friendly products may be linked to healthier overall maternal lifestyles and eating habits, contributing in turn to the healthier gut microbiomes and weight of their .

"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."

A related commentary provides perspective on the interesting findings.

"There is biologic plausibility to the finding that early-life exposure to disinfectants may increase risk of childhood obesity through the alterations in bacteria within the Lachnospiraceae family," write epidemiologists Dr. Noel Mueller and Moira Differding, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, in a related commentary.

They call for further studies "to explore the intriguing possibility that use of household disinfectants might contribute to the complex causes of obesity through microbially mediated mechanisms."

Dr. Kozyrskyj agrees and points to the need for studies that classify cleaning products by their actual ingredients. "The inability to do this was a limitation of our study."


Explore further

C-sections and gut bacteria increase risk of childhood obesity

More information: Mon H. Tun et al. Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children, Canadian Medical Association Journal (2018). DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.170809

Moira K. Differding et al. Are household disinfectants microbially mediated obesogens?, Canadian Medical Association Journal (2018). DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.181134

Citation: Household cleaning products may contribute to kids' overweight by altering their gut microbiota (2018, September 17) retrieved 15 September 2019 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2018-09-household-products-contribute-kids-overweight.html
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Sep 17, 2018
That may not be the only cause of obesity. Food preservatives may be another one. If they kill gut bacteria, then people would get more nutrients than usual and would get fat. I lost weight when I ate less bread. There were other causes in my case (I was eating less, more fruits), but someone else told me he lost weight too when he quit bread.

Sep 17, 2018
Ammonia is added to control bacteria in ground beef, - so if the burger is under cooked - does the ammonia wipe some of the micro-biome ??

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