Keeping a clean house may protect against the spread of germs, but early exposure to household cleaning agents could have an unwanted effect on young children, according to data from a recently completed longitudinal study of 3455 infant children.
Infants, whose caregivers reported frequent use of household cleaning products when the child was 3 to 4 months of age, were at increased risk for asthma and recurrent wheeze at 3 years compared with infants whose caregivers reported less frequent use, researchers report in an article in the February 18, 2020 issue of the Canadian Medical Association Journal.
However, there was no significant association between exposure to cleaning agents and an allergic reaction, suggesting that the observed respiratory vulnerabilities may result from inflammatory processes rather than allergic reactions. Young children who spend most of their time indoors were especially at risk.
Regarding specific categories of cleaners, it was found that the risk for respiratory problems was higher when liquid or solid air fresheners spray air fresheners, plug-in deodorizers, dusting sprays, antimicrobial hand sanitizers, and oven cleaners were used frequently compared with infrequent use.
Recommendations: avoid commercial cleaners and air fresheners and choose non-toxic and non-irritant alternatives such as white vinegar, which has a natural anti-bacterial quality, baking soda, which is naturally abrasive, and water with a few drops of essential oil(s) for odors.
The Achieve Center blog is written by the professionals who are focused on children's mental health.