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article imageAntibiotic soap can alter a baby’s gut bacteria

By Tim Sandle     Apr 4, 2016 in Health
Antibiotic soaps containing the active ingredient triclocarban, which can be purchased in stores, could, during pregnancy and breast-feeding, alter a baby’s composition of intestinal bacteria . This could have health implications.
To date the research into triclocarban and the gut microbiome has focused on animals, although the studies were designed in such a way as to act as predictors for what might happen between a human mother and her baby.
The microbiome of the human gut affects health and disease. The microbiome refers to the totality of microorganisms and the way they interact with human cells. Recent studies suggest individual variations with the gut microbial flora can affect conditions like obesity, diabetes, irritable bowel disease, colon cancer, multiple sclerosis and asthma.
The microbiome of a baby is shaped early in life, being influenced by a mother’s breast milk and from different environmental factors. One new factor may be triclocarban.
Triclocarban is added to many antibacterial bar soaps and these products are popular with expectant mothers who are concerned about pathogens. The chemical is similar in its mechanism to triclosan. The chemical has been used since the 1960s, being added to soaps, lotions, deodorants, toothpaste, and plastics. Separate research has raised concerns about a link between the chemical and breast cancer. To add to this, an FDA reports indicates that such antibacterial products probably do not work in terms of effectively killing pathogens.
The research, using rats, suggests triclocarban can be passed from mother to child through breast milk. To demonstrate the effects, a science group fed female rats chow supplemented with triclocarban for the duration of the pregnancy and for 16 days afterwards, when breast feeding took place.
Samples were taken from the large intestines pups and analysed, with the results compared with pups whose mothers had not eaten a diet adulterated with triclocarban. The sampled bacteria were subjected to DNA molecular analysis. It was found that the pups who had been fed the diet high in triclocarban had a lower diversity of bacteria. This could be associated with some longer-term health issues, although further research is required to support this.
Nonetheless the findings do warrant further investigation and the outcome would seem to add to other warnings in relation to pregnant mothers using antibacterial products without seeking appropriate medical advice.
The research has yet to be published in a peer reviewed journal. However, the experimental data and analysis of the findings will be presented at the Endocrine Society's 98th annual meeting in Boston, to be held on Friday April 8, 2016.
More about antibiotic soap, microbiome, Baby, Babies, triclocarban
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