December 14, 2005

Bedding tied to asthma development in infants

By David Douglas

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - The use of bedding that
contains no synthetic materials appears to reduce the risk of
developing wheezing in infants, Australian researchers report
in the American Journal of Public Health.

"These findings," lead author Dr. Leigh F. Trevillian told
Reuters Health, "emphasize the important role of the infant
sleeping environment in the development of asthma. They
indicate the need for a greater public health effort to ensure
optimal infant sleeping environments that will assist in asthma

Trevillian of Australian National University, Canberra and
colleagues came to this conclusion after studying data on 883
children who as infants in 1988 were included in a survey and
then took part in an asthma study in 1995.

Based on previous work, the researchers developed a
theoretical model of house dust mite exposure according to
bedding composition. The least house dust mite hospitable
bedding was of natural composition. It contained no synthetic
material or -- as is relatively common in Australia --

The next category was bedding that contained either one
type of synthetic material or sheepskin or both. The material
associated with the greatest house dust mite exposure was
composite bedding containing two or more types of synthetic
material with or without sheepskin.

About 64 percent of children were exposed to a single
synthetic material, 27 percent had natural fiber bedding, and
the remainder were exposed to composite synthetic bedding.

At the age of 7, children who had been exposed to composite
bedding were more than twice as likely to have recently
experience wheezing and night wheezing compared with infants
who had natural bedding.

There also a relationship between increased exposure to
such bedding and more wheezing. In addition, when factors such
as absence of bedroom carpeting and heating were present, say
the investigators, "the association between type of bedding and
wheezing was markedly exacerbated."

Trevillian concluded that these findings "support current
recommendations that low allergen bedding should be used for

SOURCE: American Journal of Public Health, December 2005.