Why the first few years are so important in avoiding asthma and hay fever

by David Power

Why the first few years are so important in avoiding asthma and hay fever

Did you know that the first few years are important in avoiding asthma and hay fever?

And that falling victim to asthma or hay fever is a two-step process?

You don’t just ‘get asthma’or ‘get hay fever’ and then that’s it, you have it. No, first you get ‘sensitised’ to asthma or hay fever (allergic rhinitis). This happens when you inhale a substance which, when breathed in, can trigger an allergic reaction in the respiratory system. This sensitisation process does not usually take place immediately, there can be a ‘latency period’ of weeks or more after inhaling the sensitising substance.

Once sensitised, further exposure will lead to symptoms.

However, once the sensitisation reaction has taken place, further exposure to the substance, even to the smallest amounts, will produce symptoms. It is at this point that you ‘get’ asthma or hay fever.


One of the primary sensitisers to asthma and hay fever is the house dust mite.

A study of asthma and allergy patients across 15 European countries indicated that the mean level of sensitisation to the house dust mite was 22%, suggesting that the house dust mite was responsible for almost a quarter of asthma and hay fever cases.

Reducing exposure to house dust mites improves the chances of your baby avoiding asthma and hay fever. 

The likelihood of acquiring a house dust mite allergy is linked to exposure to the house dust mite itself. A German study through the first three years of life found a direct link between exposure to the two main house dust mite allergens and the development of asthma or hay fever.

It is important to take preventative measures in the first 3 years.

This study also showed that house dust mite sensitisation was relatively low in the first year of life (0.5%), but increased substantially in years 2 (1.4%) and 3 (1.9%). The conclusion was that interventions aimed at primary prevention of sensitization should be introduced as early as possible, preferably during infancy.

House dust mites are more likely to be found in mattresses than carpets.

It is possibly because house dust mites like a humid environment that they are found in greater concentrations in beds than in carpets. Relative humidity increases once a bed is occupied. The concentration in beds is on average 2.7 times that found in carpets. Therefore it makes sense to focus preventive efforts on the bed area in the first instance.

What is a ‘safe’ level of house dust mite exposure?

Studies seeking to quantify a level of exposure that can be considered ‘‘safe’’ suggest that levels of less than 2 mg/g of house dust mite allergens are the maximum level for the primary prevention of sensitization in atopic children and young adults.

It is important to note that the Pure Zees baby mattress, when tested on behalf of Allergy Standards Limited and approved by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, was proven an effective barrier to allergens in the baby mattress. What's really good and beneficial about this is that Pure Zees stayed away from using dust mite killing chemicals which in themselves are a concern for use around a baby or young child.

Pure Zees is the creator of the world's first asthma & allergy friendly® certified baby mattress. 

The CERTIFIED ASTHMA & ALLERGY FRIENDLY Mark is a Registered Certification Mark of the ASTHMA AND ALLERGY FOUNDATION OF AMERICA and ALLERGY STANDARDS LTD.




David Power
David Power

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