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Day Care Facilities Carry Common Indoor Allergens

(June 3, 2005 – Day care facilities were shown to be an important source for allergen exposure, according to a study featured on the online version of the Journal of Allergy & Clinical Immunology (JACI). The JACI is the peer-reviewed journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

Indoor allergies have been associated with an increased risk of allergy and asthma development in children. Many studies have examined this relationship using levels found in the child's home since this is where they typically spend most of their time.

Many children also spend a significant amount of time in day care. In 1997, 63% of the country's 19.6 million children under the age of five were in some form of regular child care during a typical week. However, little information is known on allergy levels in day care facilities in the United States.

Samuel J. Arbes, DDS, MPH, PhD, and colleagues from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences examined the levels of seven indoor allergens (dog, cat, mouse, American and European dust mite, fungus, and cockroach) in 89 day care facilities located in two North Carolina counties. At each facility, researchers administered questionnaires and collected dust samples from the room where children spent the most time. They collected either a carpet sample, hard surfaces sample, or one of each if both were present.

Researchers discovered:

> Detectable levels of each allergen were found in a majority of the day care facilities examined.

> Dog and cat allergen were detected in 97% and 100% of the facilities, even though dogs and cats were not present in the majority of the facilities.

> The highest concentrations were for fungus, American dust mite allergen, and dog and cat allergen.

> The lowest concentrations were for cockroach allergen, European dust mite allergen and mouse allergen.

> Carpeted surfaces had significantly higher levels of dog, cat and dust allergens, indicating that carpets provide a reservoir for these allergens.

Researchers compared the results of the study to results of the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing, which studied allergen concentrations in 831 homes. They found that although levels of these allergens were high enough in some day care facilities to trigger allergy and asthma symptoms, they were very similar to those found in living rooms in the Southern United States.

This study provides evidence that day care settings are an important source of exposure to indoor allergens. Further research should be conducted to examine relationships between allergen exposure in day-care faculties and the effect on the health of children and day-care workers.

Source: AAAAI


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