Household cleaners may cause obesity in young children

Killing germs around the house may have an impact on young childrens’ waistlines.

The connection? The infant gut microbiome, according to a study led by AllerGen investigator Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj (University of Alberta).

“Infants living in households where disinfectants are used at least weekly are twice as likely to have higher levels of the bacteria called Lachnospiraceae at three to four months of age,” observes Dr. Kozyrskyj. “Those same children have a higher body mass index (BMI) at three years of age, compared to children not exposed to frequent home use of disinfectants as infants.”

The finding is more than an association, she adds: “Our ‘mediation’ statistical analysis suggests that a gut microbiome enriched with Lachnospiraceae early in infancy was likely directly responsible for children becoming overweight or obese.”

The study also found that infants in households that use eco-friendly cleaners had decreased odds of becoming overweight or obese, though the reasons for this difference remain uncertain.

Reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ), these findings are based on an analysis of data from 757 children participating in AllerGen’s CHILD Study.

PRESS RELEASE | Commentary in CMAJ