Background: Sheepskin bedding might increase house dust mite exposure and so explain some of the increasing prevalence or severity of childhood asthma.
Methods: Relationships between use of different types of bedding, and diagnoses of asthma, symptoms of wheezing, skin prick test evidence of house dust mite sensitivity, and airway responsiveness to methacholine, were examined retrospectively in a birth cohort of children followed longitudinally to age 15 years.
Results: In the whole cohort, no associations were identified to suggest a causal relationship between use of any type of bedding and development of features of asthma. Although not an a priori hypothesis, we noted that among children with a family history of atopic disease, those who were house dust mite sensitive were more likely to have used an innerspring mattress (29.6% vs 10.2% who had not used an innerspring mattress, ρ= 0.005).
Conclusion: In this subgroup, increased airway responsiveness and mite sensitivity were significantly associated with use of innerspring mattresses, although whether this is a causal or secondary association is not certain. Use of a sheepskin in the bed in early childhood was not an additional risk factor for the development of asthma. (Aust NZ J Med 1994; 24: 687–692.)