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Synthetic bedding worsens asthma

health-and-fitness Updated: Aug 07, 2009 11:22 IST

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Synthetic bedding contains higher levels of fungal cell products than feather bedding, which may aggravate symptoms of asthma, according to a recent study.

The study by Otago University researchers confirms that synthetic bedding has much higher levels of fungi related beta glucan than feather bedding.

Beta glucans are non-allergenic components from the cell walls of fungi that can account for up to 60 percent of the weight of the cell. They are also present in large quantities in house dust.

This study follows earlier international evidence that shows house dust mites, known to affect asthmatics, are also more prevalent in synthetic compared to feather bedding.

"This study adds further strong evidence that feather bedding is better than synthetics if you have asthma," says lead investigator Rob Siebers. "This is because beta glucan is pro-inflammatory and associated with lung function changes, including peak flow variability in children."

"There have already been a number of international studies that show synthetic bedding is associated with more asthma symptoms compared to feather bedding."

Siebers' research looked at 178 samples obtained from 35 floors, 35 mattresses, 35 duvets and 73 pillows.

He says total beta glucan levels of synthetic pillows were two to three times higher than from feather pillows, although this just failed to reach statistical significance.

Mattresses older than five years also have about three times the amount of beta glucan compared to newer ones, said an Otago University release.

These findings were recently published in the Journal of Asthma.