• allergens;
  • Der p 1;
  • house dust mite;
  • intervention;
  • season

Background:  House dust mite (HDM) allergy is closely linked to the expression of asthma and other allergic diseases. Understanding factors influencing variation in allergen may help in controlling allergic disease. The objective of this study was to investigate the effects of seasonal changes in climate, type of bed used in very early childhood and anti-mite interventions on HDM allergen concentration.

Methods:  Participants were enrolled in a randomized-controlled trial of HDM avoidance. Der p 1 was measured in dust samples from children’s beds on 13 occasions, from birth to age 5 years, between 1997 and 2004. Bed types were categorized as bassinette, cot or bed. The effects of study month, type of bed and intervention group on HDM allergen concentration were estimated by multiple linear regression. The relation between climatic variables and HDM allergen concentration was investigated using a polynomial distributed lag model.

Results:  House dust mite allergen concentrations were initially low in cots and bassinettes in 1997/1998, peaked in bassinettes and beds between 1999 and 2001 and then slowly declined during the period 2002/2004. Seasonal fluctuations occurred with minima in summer and two- to threefold higher maxima during late autumn. Allergen peaks were correlated with relative humidity peaks 2 months previously. Seasonal changes in allergen were not affected by the HDM avoidance intervention.

Conclusions:  House dust mite allergen concentrations in Sydney beds fluctuate approximately two- to threefold on an annual cycle, partly determined by relative humidity, with peaks in late autumn and minima in summer. Fluctuations of this magnitude might be sufficient to influence asthma symptoms.