Synthetic bedding worsens asthma

A study by researchers at Otago University looked at the beta glucans levels in 178 samples obtained from 35 floors, 35 mattresses, 35 duvets and 73 pillows. Beta glucans are non-allergenic components from the cell walls of fungi that can account for up to 60% of the weight of the cell and are also present in large quantities in house dust. Beta glucans is pro-inflammatory and associated with lung function changes, including peak flow variability in children.
The study showed that dust mites are more prevalent in synthetic than in feather bedding. Total beta glucans levels in synthetic pillows were two to three times higher than in feather pillows, although this just failed to reach statistical significance. Old mattresses (more than five years old) also have about three times more beta glucans than newer ones.
The findings were published in the Journal Asthma.

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First Published November 2009

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