LKeeping the home clean is a regular way for many families to maintain the home environment. With the increase in the types of cleaners on the market, the use of cleaners is more common and frequent, and the living environment is cleaner and more hygienic. But the impact of excessive use of detergents on children who grew up in an environment devoid of bacteria has gradually emerged. Earlier studies in the United Kingdom believed that young children are more likely to develop leukemia in an overly clean sterile environment. Recent research has also suggested that frequent use of all-purpose household cleaners may alter the bacteria in our guts and increase children’s chances of being overweight.
A recent study by Canadian researchers published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal showed that if the family where the young child lives uses no less than 2 times of disinfectant per week, when the child is 3 to 4 months old, compared with those who do not Young children in homes with frequent use of disinfectants had higher levels of Lachnospira in the gut. What’s more, these children with higher levels of Lachnospira had better BMIs by age 3, meaning the children weighed more.
Why are household cleaners causing childhood obesity?
According to Anita Kozyrskyj, a professor of pediatrics at the University of Alberta, Lachnospira, a common bacterium in the gut microbiome, acquires a wide variety of bacterial species as babies develop, and each species changes over time. Increase or decrease, but studies in animals have shown that higher levels of Lachnospira are usually associated with higher body fat and insulin resistance.
Past research has found a link between microbial populations and adult body weight. This study, which began in 2009, started tracking from the middle of pregnancy, across childhood, and has been tracked until adolescence. The data for the study came from stool samples of 757 infants aged 3 to 4 months, as well as related family questionnaires, and compared their BMI index when they grew up with the disinfection products used by their parents.
Survey results indicate that about 80 percent of Canadian households use a disinfectant, usually an all-purpose household cleaner, at least once a week. Further studies have found that the more frequently disinfectants are used, the more Lachnospira in the baby’s intestines, but if children in families who use no bactericidal ingredients or environmentally friendly cleaners, find the same associated. According to Kozyrskyj, these results suggest that the gut microbiome is the culprit behind the link between disinfectants and obesity.
Gut bacteria and obesity
Moira K. Differding and Noel T. Mueller of the Department of Epidemiology at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health say the conclusion is “biologically plausible.” Although they were not involved in the study, they explained from an expert perspective that the bacteria that babies are exposed to in childhood can not only cultivate the immune system, but also program the metabolic system. In previous studies, the natural development of infant gut bacteria was disrupted by caesarean section, prenatal and postnatal antibiotics, and formula, all of which may contribute to childhood obesity.
Kozyrskyj noted that, among other findings from the study, infants who lived in homes that used environmentally friendly cleaners had richer microbial populations, much lower levels of the harmful Enterobacter bacterium, and were less present in early childhood. The case of being overweight. However, the data analysis did not show that changes in bacterial populations were associated with a lower risk of childhood obesity.
Even so, in this era of overnutrition, it is still meaningful to find out a risk factor for preventing childhood obesity.