According to recent research in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) published on February 18, 2020, exposure of children in early age is associated with the development of asthma and wheeze in them. This study used data from the Canadian Healthy Infant Longitudinal Development (CHILD) Cohort Study.
The study included 2022 children taking part in the CHILD Cohort Study. Researchers collected data through the responses of parents to questionnaires. The questionnaire included questions related to environmental exposures, nutrition, and general health status as well as the psychological stresses on parents.
Parents filled the questionnaires when their children were 3, 6, 12, 18,24, 30, and 36 months of age.
The study basically aimed at finding the association between the exposure of infants (3-4 months of age) to household cleaning products and the development of asthma, wheeze, and atopy at the age of 3 years.
Researchers observed daily, weekly and monthly exposure of babies to 26 different household cleaning products and later examined the development of the mentioned respiratory issues in these children at age 3. The household cleaning products included detergents, dishwashing cleaners, polishes, disinfectants, scented cleaners, and air fresheners.
Dr. Tim Takaro is the lead researcher of the study. He is a clinician-scientist in the faculty of Health Sciences at Simon Frasor University (SFU). Dr. Takaro explained that young babies spend 80-90% of their time inside their homes. Therefore, they are particularly susceptible to the development of respiratory issues like asthma.
Their high respiration rates and continuous and direct contact with the household surfaces increases their chances of chemical exposure to cleaning products.
Among the participants, most children were white (64.9%), had no family or parental history of asthma (64.7%), and had no exposure to tobacco smoke for almost 3-4 months of age (76.4%). Approximately 57% of children had pets at their homes. 51.8% of participants had an annual family income of more than 100,000 USD.
Researchers found a risk of asthma development and wheeze in young children associated with early exposure to cleaning products. However, no association was found with atopy.
The authors formulated a hypothesis that the chemical components of cleaning products do not stimulate atopy but damage the cells of the respiratory lining. They cause the inflammatory response rather than acquired allergic responses.
Jaclyn Parks, the lead author of the study has stated that the frequent risk of asthma and wheeze in young children is significantly higher in households where these cleaning products are frequently and normally used.
The use of solid or liquid air-fresheners, dusting sprays, deodorizers, Alcohol-based hand rubs or sanitizers, and oven cleaners is notably associated with the increased risk. Jaclyn further suggests that people should avoid the use of scented sprays and cleaners in their cleaning practices.
The report suggests parents read labels on the cleaning products and be aware of the risks of respiratory and other disease risks associated with the use of these household cleaning products.