"Because children spend a significant portion of time in day care settings, it is important that parents understand the risks of allergen exposure and know where these allergens can be found," said David A. Schwartz, M.D., the new Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the part of the National Institutes of Health that supported the study. The study will be available online in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology on June 1.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63 percent of children under five spend 37 hours per week in child care. Exposure to indoor allergens has been shown in previous studies to increase the likelihood of developing asthma or allergic diseases, especially in vulnerable children.
Both licensed family day care homes and child care centers are represented in the study. The researchers used a three-pronged data collection approach to evaluate allergens in each care facility, including administering a questionnaire to each manager, observing the room where the children spent most of their time, and collecting dust samples from that room.
Dust was collected from up to four, one square meter areas of floor on both carpet and hard surfaces. Twenty facilities had dust collected from both surfaces.
Detectable levels of each allergen were found in every facility where dust samples were collected. Concentrations were the highest for allergens from cats, dogs, and a fungus known as Alternaria.
"Interestingly, similar to other studies, dog and cat allergens wer
Contact: Robin Mackar
NIH/National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences