A new study of 89 day care settings in two central North Carolina counties found detectable levels of seven common allergens from fungus, cats, cockroaches, dogs, dust mites, and mice in each facility tested. The levels were similar to those found in Southern homes.

"Because children spend a significant portion of time in day care settings, it is important that parents understand the risks of allergen exposure and know where these allergens can be found,” said David A. Schwartz, M.D., the new Director of the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), the part of the National Institutes of Health that supported the study.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 63 percent of children under five spend 37 hours per week in child care. Both licensed family day care homes and child care centres are represented in the study. The researchers used a three-pronged data collection approach to evaluate allergens in each care facility, including administering a questionnaire to each manager, observing the room where the children spent most of their time, and collecting dust samples from that room.

"Interestingly, similar to other studies, dog and cat allergens were detected in nearly all the facilities tested, although no dog or cat was observed in most,” said, Samuel Arbes, Ph.D., a NIEHS researcher and lead author on the study. "It is likely the pet allergens are brought in on the children's clothing.”

The study also found significant differences between carpeted and non-carpeted surfaces. Concentrations for five of the allergens were lower on the non-carpeted surfaces.

The researchers compared the day care allergen levels to concentrations found in Southern homes collected previously as part of the National Survey of Lead and Allergens in Housing (NSLAH). The NSLAH collected samples from 831 homes representing various regions and settings across the country.

MEDICA.de; Source: National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)