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Clean Sweep: Five Ways to Protect Your Child From Allergic Asthma

April 8, 2013
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Between work, errands and child care, housecleaning may fall to the bottom of the priority list for busy parents. But a recent study linking asthma with household dust may be reason to put more energy into tidying up.

Researchers at the National Institutes of Health identified a bacterial protein found in dust that caused allergic asthma in laboratory mice. While more studies need to be done, the lead researcher suggested that regular cleaning may protect children from asthma attacks.

It may seem obvious that keeping a clean house reduces dust and allergies, however there are some specific steps parents and caretakers can take to protect their children.

1. Reduce bedroom clutter.
Books, toys and decorative objects collect dust. Keep only essential items on shelves or tables in your child's room. If her bed is covered with stuffed animals, let her choose two or three washable favorites and make it a habit to wash them weekly.

2. Protect bedding.
Dust-proof mattress and pillow covers are easy to find and can protect your child's bed from accumulating dust and dust mites. Wash sheets and blankets once a week on the hottest water setting to kill dust mites and eliminate dust.

3. Identify dust magnets throughout the house.
Wall-to-wall carpeting attracts dust, and some sources recommend removing it and installing wood, tile or linoleum flooring. If this is not practical, vacuum once or twice a week using a vacuum cleaner with a HEPA (High-Efficiency Particulate Air) filter. Upholstered couches, drapes and mini-blinds also are dust traps. Vacuum or wash them weekly.

4. Clean smarter, not harder.
Keep allergic children out of the room while you clean, since housework can kick up dust particles. Use a damp cloth to trap dust. If you have allergies, wear a mask while cleaning.

5. Go online.
Cleaning checklists and helpful information about asthma and dust can be found on the Internet.

Asthma is one of the most common childhood illnesses, yet it can be hard to diagnose in children under age 5. If you think your child may be asthmatic, ask your pediatrician for an assessment and recommendations.


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