Article Text

Download PDFPDF
Original research
Prenatal occupational disinfectant exposure and childhood allergies: the Japan Environment and Children’s study


Background Disinfectants are widely used in the medical field, particularly recently because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has led to an increase in their use by both medical professionals and the general population. The objective of this study was to examine whether occupational disinfectant use during pregnancy was associated with the development of allergic disease in offspring at 3 years.

Methods We used data from 78 915 mother/child pairs who participated in the Japan Environment and Children’s Study, which is a prospective birth cohort recruited between January 2011 and March 2014. We examined the associations between maternal disinfectant use during pregnancy and allergic diseases (asthma, eczema and food allergies) in children after adjustment for covariates including maternal postnatal return to work when the child was 1 year old by multivariate logistic regression.

Results Compared with those who never used disinfectants, participants who used disinfectant every day had a significantly higher risk of asthma in their offspring (adjusted OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.33 for 1–6 times a week; adjusted OR 1.26, 95% CI 1.05 to 1.52 for every day). The associations between disinfectant exposure and eczema were similar to those of asthma (adjusted OR 1.16, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.31 for 1–6 times a week; adjusted OR 1.29, 95% CI 1.06 to 1.57 for every day). We found a significant exposure-dependent relationship (p for trend <0.01). There were no significant associations between disinfectant use and food allergies.

Conclusion Disinfectant use by pregnant women may be a risk factor for asthma and eczema in offspring. As disinfectants are an effective tool in the prevention of infectious diseases, replication of this study and further research into the mechanisms are warranted.

  • allergy and immunology
  • chemistry
  • inorganic

Data availability statement

No data are available. Data are unsuitable for public deposition due to ethical restrictions and legal framework of Japan. It is prohibited by the Act on the Protection of Personal Information (Act No. 57 of 30 May 2003, amendment on 9 September 2015) to publicly deposit the data containing personal information. Ethical Guidelines for Medical and Health Research Involving Human Subjects enforced by the Japan Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare also restricts the open sharing of the epidemiologic data. All inquiries about access to data should be sent to: The person responsible for handling enquiries sent to this e-mail address is Dr Shoji F. Nakayama, JECS Programme Office, National Institute for Environmental Studies.

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.