AsianScientist (Dec. 17, 2013) – Children’s soft toys can harbor high levels of cat and dog allergens as well as house dust mite allergens, according to a research team at the University of Otago in New Zealand.
After house dust mite allergens, exposure to cat and dog allergens is the next most common indoor source of allergens. All are strongly associated with asthma.
Children often sleep with soft toys close to their airways, so any allergens present can be a potential problem for asthmatics, according to Associate Professor Rob Siebers.
“What that means is that exposure to allergens on toys tends to be greater than exposure to mattresses,” said Siebers.
The research study, published in the Journal of Asthma, analyzed dust collected from 40 children’s soft toys and mattresses. Most had detectable cat and dog allergen levels even in homes without cats or dogs. 35 of the 40 soft toys (87.5 percent) had detectable cat allergen levels, and 34 (85 percent) had detectable dog allergen levels. By comparison, 80 percent of mattresses had detectable levels of the allergens.
Furthermore, while all mattresses and soft toys had detectable house dust might allergen levels, soft toys contained about three times the level of those on mattresses. While soft toys have long been recognized as a source of house dust mite allergens, this is the first major study of its kind to confirm they are also a source of cat and dog allergens, regardless of whether the home has pets, said Siebers.
“Cat and dog allergens are aerodynamic and can be transported on clothing into animal-free areas, even in cat-free areas such as the Antarctic,” she said.
Siebers added that the good news is that a regular cold wash in the washing machine has been proven to get rid of cat and dog allergens.
“My advice to parents, particularly of children who are sensitized asthmatics, is to put the toy their child sleeps with through the wash at least weekly.”
The article can be found at: Wu F et al. (2013) Cat, dog and house dust mite allergen levels on children’s soft toys.
Source: University of Otago; Photo: reader of the pack/Flickr/CC.
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