Early contact with household cleaning agents could lead to asthma in young children, according to new research.

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 published online February 18 in the CMAJ.

However, there was no significant association between exposure to cleaning agents and atopy, suggesting that the observed respiratory vulnerabilities may result from inflammatory rather than allergic processes, note Jaclyn Parks, a graduate student at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, and colleagues.