BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Health  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
Medical notes
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Tuesday, 22 May, 2001, 23:25 GMT 00:25 UK
'Asthma mites' infest one in four homes
dust mites
House dust mites are associated with asthma
A survey in the US suggests that dust mite allergens could be found in bedding from almost a quarter of households.

Cockroach allergen could be found in bedding in more than 6% of homes.

Dust mites live primarily off flakes of skin, and deposit proteins from their guts which can cause allergy and asthma in humans.

The survey, carried out by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, looked at levels of common allergens in a representative sample of 831 homes.


In the UK most homes have sufficient house dust mite allergen in them to be relevant to the health of asthmatics

Dr Rob Niven, North West Lung Centre
Researchers looked at vacuumed dust samples from the houses and compared this to health information from the families living there.

They found high levels of the dust mite proteins in bedding in 23% of the houses.

Certain types of household were more likely to have higher levels of dust mite allergen.

These included low income households, those with high bedroom humidity, older houses - built before 1978, and non-Hispanic ethnicity of inhabitants.

Dr Darryl Zeldin, the lead author on the study, presented to the American Thoracic Society conference in San Francisco, said: "This information can be used to identify homes and individuals that are at greatest risk of exposure so that researchers can better target their prevention and intervention efforts."

Frequent cleaning

He suggested that frequent and rigorous cleaning of bedding, the use of dehumidifiers and plastic barriers between mattress and sheeting could all help reduce the levels of allergen in homes.

The number of diagnosed asthmatics has been increasing rapidly in recent years - and dust mite allergen may well be a factor in either the development of the disease or in triggering attacks.

An expert on allergy and asthma, Dr Rob Niven, from the North West Lung Centre at Wythenshawe Hospital, Manchester, said: "In the UK most homes have sufficient house dust mite allergen in them to be relevant to the health of asthmatics.

"In the UK house dust mite is the most important allergen with 90% of childhood asthma being associated with allergy to house dust mite."

"There are of course parts of the world where there is very little house dust mite. Allergy and asthma are usually less common in these parts - and where present, is normally due to cockroach allergen, animals or pollen."

He said that it was important to target potential allergens to reduce the symptoms of asthma - and for sufferers to undergo skin tests to determine the source of their reaction.

See also:

29 Sep 99 | Health
07 Jul 00 | Health
Internet links:


The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more Health stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Health stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes