The use of synthetic bedding in children. Do strategies of change influence associations with asthma?

J Asthma. 2005 Apr;42(3):203-6.


Background: Epidemiological data suggest in contrast to clinical recommendations a negative effect of synthetic bedding on asthma and respiratory symptoms.

Objective: To assess the effects of bedding filled with synthetic material on the risk of asthma and respiratory symptoms in 6- to 7-year-old children, taking into account allergy-related change of bedding material.

Methods: We analyzed data from the ISAAC Phase III cross-sectional survey (1999/2000) in Münster, Germany. Data were collected by parental report from representative school-based samples of 6- to 7-year old children (n = 3,529). We calculated prevalence ratios with 95% confidence intervals for the association between respiratory symptoms suggestive of asthma and synthetic pillows and blankets and adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: In the preliminary analyses, synthetic pillows and synthetic blankets were positively associated with the studied respiratory outcomes. For example, a high number of wheezing attacks was positively associated with synthetic pillows (PR = 4.44; 95% CI 2.84-6.94) and synthetic blankets (PR = 3.80; 95% CI 2.48-5.82). However, in the restricted analysis, excluding participants reporting allergy-related change of bedding (pillows n = 440; blankets n = 437), the positive associations disappeared for all studied outcomes.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that allergy-related choice of bedding is an important factor in the assessment of the relation between synthetic bedding and asthma symptoms. Ignoring those changes can lead to false-positive risk estimates. Prospective studies that allow to disentangle the temporal sequence of disease, exposure, and change of bedding should help to further clarify this issue.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Allergens / immunology*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Bedding and Linens / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Allergens