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

18 Septembre, 2018, 17:39 | Auteur: Yves Courtet

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.

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.

"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", she added. And while the researchers are not advocating that we all stop using our disinfectants, Dr. Kozyrskyj does suggest that they should not be overused.

A new University of Alberta study suggests frequent use of household cleaners likely increases the risk of obesity in young children.

Disinfectants, detergents, and other cleaning products are now ubiquitous in our homes, and their use has been associated with an increased risk of wheezing in both users and their children, the researchers report. Although there is relatively little data on any association between cleaning products and bodyweight, one study has found high urinary levels of triclosan in adolescents with higher adiposity.

Sedlak also cited "limitations in the research", and criticized the study's design.

"When infants are implicated, changing the composition of microbiota at a critical time of development may affect the immune system", Kozyrskyj told the news outlet.

"As the microbiome develops over the first year of life, these microbes increase in their abundance".

In the reported study, after controlling for factors including breastfeeding, and antibiotic exposure, the results indicated a clear association between disinfectant use-but not other types of cleaning products such as detergents-and changes to infant gut microbiota composition. Fecal samples were collected and parents were asked how often cleaning products were used in the home. Samples from 757 infants were profiled and analyzed along with BMI data at older ages and parental use of disinfectant products. Further analyses indicated that this link was causal.

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Reference Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children.

"We each possess a unique gut microbiota but there are common patterns, there are common microbes that are expected to be found in childhood and in adulthood", said Kozyrskyj.

"Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae", she said.

"We did not find a relationship between detergents and gut microbiome change or obesity risk that was independent of disinfectant usage", Kozyrskyj said.

The study notes that infants in households with high use of environmentally friendly cleaners had decreased odds of becoming overweight or obese - but that was not related to their gut microbiome as an infant.

"Antibacterial cleaning products have the capacity to change the environmental microbiome and alter risk for child overweight", the authors conclude.

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". "I want to emphasize that our findings on the disinfectant use were at the higher end of use".

There are many findings that point to a possible causative role for disinfectants in altering gut flora and subsequently leading to a higher childhood BMI, said Kozyrskyj, noting that in studies of mice, Lachnospiraceae has been shown to cause insulin resistance and increased fat storage.

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