Background Sensitization to house dust mite (HDM) is an important risk factor for the development of asthma and allergic disease in childhood. Higher levels of HDM allergen are linked to increased sensitization to HDM.
Objective To study the effect of mite-impermeable mattress encasings and an educational package on the development of allergies in a newborn cohort.
Methods Six hundred and ninety-six newborns at high risk of developing allergies were enrolled in three European countries (Germany, Austria, UK) in a prospective, randomized, controlled birth-cohort study. Children were randomly assigned to an intervention and control group. Intervention measures included the use of mite-impermeable mattress encasings for the child's bed and a simple educational package on allergen avoidance. The control group received basic information about allergies. Children were followed up at age 6, 12, 18 and 24 months.
Results 80.9% of the children were followed up to the age of 24 months. No difference in the prevalence of sensitization to HDM (control vs. intervention group: 8.4% vs. 6.1%, P=0.33) or the development of symptoms (recurrent wheezing 10.3% vs. 10.7%, nocturnal cough 12.5% vs. 12.5%) or allergic diseases (asthma 3.5% vs. 5.1%, eczema 20.0% vs. 19.6%, rhinitis 28.9% vs. 25.8%) could be found between the control and intervention group.
Conclusion In this study, HDM avoidance did not show a protective effect on the development of sensitization to HDM or symptomatic allergy in children at age 24 months.