Do you have overweight children? If so, it could be that household cleaners and disinfectants are to blame for excessive weight gain in babies and toddlers, a new Canadian study has found.
The study, led by Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta in Canada and published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, collected fecal samples from 757 infants, measured different types of gut bacteria in each, and tracked the weight of the subject babies for three years.
The study revealed that children from homes where antimicrobial cleaners and disinfectants were used daily were more than twice as likely to be either overweight or obese by the age of 3, compared to children raised from homes where “eco-friendly” cleaners (vinegar, peroxide, baking soda, citric acid, essential oils, etc.) were primarily used.
According to HealthDay News, the antimicrobial agents in cleaners can alter any person’s gut makeup by killing off certain species of bacteria, which leaves room for others types to flourish. This is what happened in the intestines of the subject children, the study found.
“Disinfectant products used very often, weekly or greater, did cause changes to the infants’ gut bacteria,” Dr. Kozyrskyj told HealthDay. “It caused some bacteria to decline and others to increase.”
Specifically, the antimicrobial household cleaners promoted higher levels of Lachnospiraceae in infants. Lachnospiraceae bacteria is typically regarded as good bacteria for its ability to squeeze extra energy out of tough-to-digest carbohydrate fibers.
However, Lachnospiraceae should not be present in the gut bacteria until babies start eating solid food, usually around the age of 2 to 3 years. An abundance of Lachnospiraceae bacteria at an early age could cause babies to become inundated with extra calories, which the body stores as fat. This could set in motion the processes that lead to childhood obesity.
The study does not prove cause-and-effect between household cleaners and pediatric obesity, but it does show a strong correlation that deserves further study.