Parents, take note! Commonly used household cleaners and disinfectants could be making your children overweight by altering their gut microbes, a study has found. The study, published in Canadian Medical Association Journal, analysed the gut flora of 757 infants from the general population at age 3-4 months and weight at ages one and three years, looking at exposure to disinfectants, detergents and eco-friendly products used in the home.
The researchers from University of Alberta in Canada found that frequent use of household disinfectants such as multisurface cleaners altered gut flora in babies 3-4 months old. They did not find the same association with detergents or eco-friendly cleaners. Studies of piglets have found similar changes in the gut microbiome when exposed to aerosol disinfectants.
Babies living in households that used eco-friendly cleaners had different microbiota and were less likely to be overweight as toddlers. 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 infants.
“Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight,” researchers said. “Our study provides novel information regarding the impact of these products on infant gut microbial composition and outcomes of overweight in the same population,” they said.