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Postnatal exposure to household disinfectants, infant gut microbiota and subsequent risk of overweight in children [Research]

BACKGROUND:

Emerging links between household cleaning products and childhood overweight may involve the gut microbiome. We determined mediating effects of infant gut microbiota on associations between home use of cleaning products and future overweight.

METHODS:

From the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) birth cohort, we tested associations between maternal report of cleaning product use and overweight at age 3, and whether associations were mediated by microbial profiles of fecal samples in 3- to 4-month-old infants.

RESULTS:

Among 757 infants, the abundance of specific gut microbiota was associated with household cleaning with disinfectants and eco-friendly products in a dose-dependent manner. With more frequent use of disinfectants, Lachnospiraceae increasingly became more abundant (highest v. lowest quintile of use: adjusted odds ratio [AOR] 1.93, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.08 to 3.45) while genus Haemophilus declined in abundance (highest v. lowest quintile of use: AOR 0.36, 95% CI 0.20 to 0.65). Enterobacteriaceae were successively depleted with greater use of eco-friendly products (AOR 0.45, 95% CI 0.27 to 0.74). Lachnospiraceae abundance significantly mediated associations of the top 30th centile of household disinfectant use with higher body mass index (BMI) z score (p = 0.02) and with increased odds of overweight or obesity (p = 0.04) at age 3. Use of eco-friendly products was associated with decreased odds of overweight or obesity independently of Enterobacteriaceae abundance (AOR 0.44, 95% CI 0.22 to 0.86), with no significant mediation (p = 0.2).

INTERPRETATION:

Exposure to household disinfectants was associated with higher BMI at age 3, mediated by gut microbial composition at age 3–4 months. Although child overweight was less common in households that cleaned with eco-friendly products, the lack of mediation by infant gut microbiota suggests another pathway for this association.

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