Keeping your home a bit “too clean” by using common multi-surface disinfectants could be changing and harming your child’s gut bacteria by making them more susceptible to obesity.
That’s the chief finding from data culled from an examination of fecal samples collected from 757 Canadian babies, along with their exposure to various cleaning products, according to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
Babies living in homes where disinfectants were used every week were twice as likely to have increased levels of one bacteria (Lachnospiraceae), according to researchers.
That difference in one strain of bacteria was enough to elevate the chances of young children being overweight by age 3, compared to kids who weren’t exposed to disinfectants as infants, says Dr. Anita Kozyrskyj, the principal investigator on the SyMBIOTA project that examines how altering the gut health of infants impacts their health.
Canadian scientists could see the connection, especially as they discovered babies living in households with greater use of more eco-friendly cleaners had a decreased risk of becoming overweight or obese.
Although this study cited concerns about the use of antibacterial cleaners, researchers didn’t track the kinds of chemicals being used to clean the homes where their participants lived as babies.
Still, these results may be more evidence of the hygiene hypothesis, in which the body’s immune responses are reversed due to continuing exposure to disinfectants, antibacterial chemicals, antibiotics and bottled water, all of them intended to make our lives way too clean.
(The hygiene hypothesis can also work to protect kids from health problems like asthma. For example, Amish children surrounded by nature, farm animals and common house dust — a less hygienic environment than most homes — were less likely to suffer from asthma, according to a New England Journal of Medicine report.)
Fortunately, there’s a simple and healthy solution to protect the delicate balance of bacteria in your baby’s gut and reduce his/her risks of obesity at the same time (especially for moms who can’t breastfeed for very long or at all).
A quarter-teaspoon of EndoMune Jr. Powder, recommended for children up to age 3, contains four strains of beneficial bacteria from the Lactobacillus and Bifidobacteria families along with a prebiotic (FOS) that keeps their gut health in balance.