PURPOSE OF THE STUDY.
Children's soft toys are known to harbor house dust mite (HDM) allergens, but little is known about whether they harbor cat or dog allergens. The objective of the study was to measure cat (Fel d 1), dog (Can f 1), and HDM allergens on children's soft toys.
Children’s soft toys and mattresses were analyzed.
Dust was collected from 40 children's soft toys and their mattresses, and data were gathered on pet ownership. Dust samples were analyzed for Fel d 1, Can f 1, Der p 1, and Der f 1 by using enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Results are expressed as median levels with interquartile ranges (IQRs).
Thirty-five (87.5%) soft toys had detectable Fel d 1 levels (median: 0.73 μg/g; IQR: 0.26–2.56), whereas 34 (85%) had detectable Can f 1 levels (median: 1.20 μg/g; IQR: 0.53–2.68). Correspondingly, 32 (80%) mattresses had detectable Fel d 1 levels (median: 0.18 μg/g; IQR: 0.07–1.01), whereas 34 (85%) had detectable Can f 1 levels (median: 0.50 μg/g; IQR: 0.33–1.06). All mattresses and soft toys had detectable HDM allergen (Der p 1 + Der f 1) levels, with soft toys containing ∼3 times higher levels than mattresses. In homes with cats (n = 10), Fel d 1 levels were higher on soft toys than homes without cats (2.49 vs 0.48 μg/g; P = .0009). In homes with dogs (n = 25), Can f 1 levels were generally higher on soft toys (1.38 vs 0.63 μg/g; P = .10).
This study has found that soft toys can harbor cat and dog allergen as well as HDM allergens, some with very high levels. Cat and dog ownership resulted in higher Fel d 1 and Can f 1 levels on soft toys and mattresses. The levels of Fel d 1, Can f 1, and HDM allergens on soft toys could be of importance to sensitized asthmatic children.
Many studies have evaluated the role of the home environment such as carpet, bedding, and pets as reservoirs of allergen. Very few focus on issues specific to young children in their greatest sensitization phase. This study reminds the clinician that even benign ubiquitous children’s toys carry significant amounts of allergen that could influence asthma control in sensitized children. For families receiving asthma education, discussion of soft toys should be part of a complete environmental evaluation. Whether families choose to comply with recommendations poses its own issues.
- Copyright © 2014 by the American Academy of Pediatrics