Disinfectant use during pregnancy linked to childhood asthma and eczema

(ORDO NEWS) — The use of disinfectants by pregnant women may be a risk factor for asthma and eczema in their children, according to a new study by Japanese scientists. Moreover, the more often pregnant women used such drugs, the higher was the risk of developing these diseases.

Disinfectants are often used in hospitals and other healthcare facilities, and the Covid-19 pandemic has taken their use to a whole new level. Antiseptics are now ubiquitous from personal supplies in backpacks and bags of citizens to stationary devices with antiseptic gel or isopropyl alcohol at work, school, restaurants and the subway.

Earlier work has reported an association between the development of asthma and dermatitis in healthcare workers and the use of disinfectants in the workplace.

Given the increased popularity of such products, the authors of the new study decided to investigate whether prenatal exposure to disinfectants is associated with an increased risk of allergic diseases in children up to three years after birth.

The study used data from 78,915 mother-child couples who participated in the Japan Environment and Child Study project. According to the results, the risk of children developing asthma or eczema was significantly higher (by 16-18%) if their mothers used disinfectants between one and six times a week during pregnancy.

Meanwhile, the children of women exposed to daily disinfectants had an even higher risk of being diagnosed with an appropriate diagnosis: 26% for asthma and 29% for childhood eczema. At the same time, there was no significant association between the use of disinfectants and food allergies in children.

Since this is an observational (i.e. observational) study, it is not possible to determine the exact cause of the increased risk of developing these diseases. Nevertheless, scientists offer several possible explanations for the correlation.

Among the proposed mechanisms for the development of diseases: microbiome mediated (disinfectants affect the microflora of the intestines and skin of the mother and then the child), immune mediated (exposure to certain chemicals during pregnancy affects the fetal immune response), postnatal exposure (children inhaled or touched to the disinfectant molecules on their mothers’ skin).

The bias of the analyzed data could also be an important factor mothers who often use disinfectants are likely to be more knowledgeable in medical issues, pay more attention to the health of the child, or have better access to the healthcare system.

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