Commonly used household disinfectants could be making children overweight by altering the bacteria found in their guts.
A new study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal suggests infants living in households where antimicrobial disinfectants are used at least weekly were twice as likely to have higher levels of the bacteria Lachnospiraceae at ages 3 to 4 months than children whose homes did not frequently use disinfectants.
When those children with higher levels of Lachnospiraceae were three-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.
The bacteria Lachnospiraceae are “a normal component of our gut microbiota,” Anita Kozyrskyj, senior author of the study and a University of Alberta pediatrics professor, said in a CMAJ podcast.
However, she explained that it is known “from animal studies that higher levels of Lachnospiraceae have been associated with higher body fat and insulin resistance.”
The new report uses data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development study, which began in 2009 with researchers actively following participants as they grow and develop, from mid-pregnancy into childhood and adolescence.
When infants were 3 or 4 months old, their parents provided a poop sample for each infant and answered questions about their home, explained Kozyrskyj.
Samples from 757 infants were profiled and analyzed along with BMI data at older ages and parental use of disinfectant products.
While the researchers found an increase in Lachnospiraceae bacteria with more frequent cleaning with disinfectants, they did not see the same association with washing detergents without the bacteria-killing ingredients found in disinfectants or eco-friendly cleaners.
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