If your child is overweight, take a closer look inside your kitchen cabinets. Common household cleaners may be making kids heavier by changing the environment in their gut.
That what Canadian researchers found after analyzing the gut flora of more than 750 infants and tracking their weight over time. They found the strongest association between altered gut flora and frequent use of multisurface household cleaners.
In homes where those disinfectants were used at least twice a week, infants were twice as likely to have higher levels of the gut microbe Lachnospiraceae (Lach‐no‐SPI‐ra-ce-a). At age 3, their body mass was higher than children not exposed to heavy disinfectant use as infants.
Infants from homes where environmentally friendly cleaning products were used had a different gut microbe profile than those where traditional cleaners were used, including lower levels of a particular bacteria.
Researchers believe that eco-friendly cleaning products may be associated with a mother’s overall healthy lifestyle — something that might contribute to her child’s healthy gut composition and weight. The findings shed new light on how cleaning products have the ability to change a child’s gut microbes, thus affecting their risk of becoming overweight, the researchers noted.
Because the relationship between gut microbes and obesity is complex, more studies are needed, Johns Hopkins University researchers said in a commentary that accompanied the Canadian scientists’ published findings. Ultimately, the Canadian researchers said, further study could someday lead to probiotic supplements that help ward off obesity by optimally balancing infants’ gut microbes.