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Household Disinfectants May Be Making Children Overweight

Sep 17, 2018 09:07 PM EDT
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Household disinfectant are supposed to make the home safer for the family, but new research shows that it can have adverse effects on children's weight.

With childhood obesity continuing to be a serious public health problem all over the world, it's more important than ever to figure out what's contributing to the spike in the weight of kids globally.

Household Cleaning Products Change The Gut

In a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, researchers suggest that the household cleaners could be contributing to the increase of overweight children by making significant changes on their gut microbiota.

The team analyzed the gut microbiota of 757 infants ages 3 to 4 months and then their weight at ages 1 and 3 years, according to Medical Xpress. Exposure to various cleaning products at home were also recorded.

Results of their observations show a link among the regular use of household disinfectants, altered gut microbiota (specifically, higher levels of the Lachnospiraceae bacteria), and a higher body mass index.

Infants in households who use disinfectants at least weekly were found to be twice as likely to have more of the gut microbes Lachnospiraceae at 3 to 4 months old, according to a statement from Anita Kozyrskyj, a University of Alberta pediatrics professor and principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project. Then at 3 years old, their BMI was found higher than those who weren't exposed to frequent disinfectant use as babies.

Furthermore, frequent cleaning with disinfectants are shown to cause an increase in the amount of Lachnospiraceae bacteria in the gut.

Other Options

While the study highlighted the potentially harmful effects of household disinfectants such as multi-surface cleaners, no similar link was found with the use of detergents or eco-friendly products.

"Those infants growing up in households with heavy use of eco cleaners had much lower levels of the gut microbes Enterobacteriaceae," Kozyrskyj continues. "However, we found no evidence that these gut microbiome changes caused the reduced obesity risk."

Instead, she suggests that opting for eco-friendly products may also be associated with mothers who have healthier overall lifestyles and eating habits. This behavior could promote a healthy gut microbiomes and weight in their babies.

Further studies are being encouraged to explore the suggested link between cleaners and obesity. Kozyrskyj adds that future studies should classify the products by the ingredients, calling it a limitation in their new research.

About Childhood Obesity

According to CDC, 1 in 5 children and adolescents in the United States are affected with obesity.

Just like in adults, excess weight can lead to a slew of health problems in children including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, breathing problems, joint problems, fatty liver disease, and gallstones, among others. It's also been proved to increase risk for cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

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