The respiratory effects of reduction of mite allergen in the bedrooms of asthmatic children — a double-blind controlled trial


Dr F. Carswell, Institute of Child Health, Royal Hospital for Sick Children, Bristol BS2 8BJ UK.


Background Inhalation of house dust mite (HDM) allergen may provoke attacks of asthma.

Objective We investigated whether a double-blind placebo-controlled community-based study aimed at reducing the HDM allergens in the bedrooms of HDM sensitive asthmatic children using the best methods available would prove beneficial to the children's health.

Methods The children (mean age 9.9 years, 34 boys) were recruited by a questionnaire submitted to 7386 families in a geographically-defined area of the UK. Subjects were chosen to take part in the double-blind placebo-controlled trial if they were asthmatic, skin sensitive to mites, and had mite allergen in their mattresses. Seventy children were randomly allocated to groups. In the active group, the children's bedrooms were treated with an acaricide (Acarosan) and the mattresses, pillows and duvets were encased in exclusion covers. The control group received placebo treatments.

Results Forty-nine complete data sets were obtained. Applying bedding covers and Acarosan led to a median reduction of 480 ng (100%) in mite allergen on the mattress vs 215 ng (53%) reduction in placebo-treated group by 6 weeks. No evidence was found that the acaricide reduced mite allergen level. A change in bronchial reactivity to histamine was observed in the children after 6 weeks. This was not associated with any change in thrice-daily records of peak expiratory flow rate. By 24 weeks, the actively-treated children had improved forced expiratory volume in 1s (FEV1) and fewer required bronchodilator therapy or reported asthmatic symptoms than did the controls.

Conclusions The results suggest that mite removal procedures may modestly improve mite-sensitive asthmatics and could perhaps be of value in exceptionally mite-sensitive and/or highly mite-exposed individuals whose response to the attempted removal should be measured.