Background To avoid allergen exposure of newborn babies, the use of a new mattress for the baby bed may be recommended. However, it is not certain that new mattresses are always free of allergens.
Objective In the present study the allergen content of new infant mattresses was investigated.
Methods Dust samples were vacuumed from 90 new mattresses for infant beds bought in 50 different Dutch shops, and the concentrations of Der p 1, Der f 1, Fel d 1 and Can f 1 were determined by radioimmunoassays.
Results Most mattresses contained some allergen and often the allergen concentrations were surprisingly high. Only 15 of the 90 mattresses contained no detectable amounts of any of the four allergens. The highest concentration found for each allergen was 3.1, 46.5, 20.2 and 95.7 µg/g of dust, respectively. However, the total amount of allergen in a mattress was still rather low because the new mattresses contained only modest amounts of dust. Baby mattresses more often contained an increased allergen load than the larger, standard-sized, infant mattresses. This may be caused by differences in manufacturing procedure. Also, mattresses that were sold without a plastic encasement more often contained an increased allergen load.
Conclusions It is advisable to buy a mattress that is wrapped in plastic, but it may still contain a substantial amount of allergen. Thorough vacuuming of a newly bought mattress before it is installed on a child's bed, is also advisable. After instalment, regular vacuuming of the mattress and washing of the bed linen as well as measures to eliminate allergen reservoirs in other parts of the house are important, because our observations indicate that mattresses easily pick up allergens from the environment.