Dust mites and newborn allergies – are they really linked?

DID YOU KNOW dust mite excrement inhaled by pregnant women could be the cause of Asthma and Allergies in up to 20% of newborn babies?

do dust mites affect newborn allergies

When you are pregnant you get a lot of advice about the food and beverages you drink. You then take extra precautions. However do you ever think about the air you breathe? Probably not.

In recent years studies have proved just how much of an effect chemicals and substances in the air can have on a growing baby. In particular newborn allergies. For example when babies are exposed to a lot of dust mites in utero, they are more likely to develop allergy problems later on in life. It’s well known that asthma and allergies can be hereditary, but this means general exposure poses similar problems.

But what on earth are you meant to do with this information?

Firstly don’t panic. There are a lot of new considerations when you find out you are pregnant. You really can’t just wrap yourself up in cotton wool for 9 months.

In addition whilst it’s relatively easy to control what you eat and drink, it’s much hard to control what type of contaminants you breathe in. Especially as you can rarely see them or smell them. However you can do small things.  Try to keep your house clean and dusted as regularly as possible during pregnancy. Breathing in dust mites here and there in small volumes during pregnancy will not have an effect, so just try keeping dust to a minimum.

In addition as it gets closer to birth and you are less comfortable or mobile, ask for help. Friends, family, paid cleaners during this time will provide peace of mind. This is especially during that nesting phase as you are getting your home environment ready for the new baby.

Finally, regular vacuuming of your mattress and surrounding environment is a fantastic way to keep on top of dust. We recommend a quick hoover every time you change your sheets or clean your bedroom. However it’s fair to say domestic vacuums are not generally strong enough to really remove the inner dirt. This is the stuff that gets disturbed each night as you sleep. Kicked up into the air and breathed in. So if you want more reassurance and real peace of mind you will need a professional service . The Fresh Sleep mattress cleaning process will eliminate the dirt you can’t see from your mattress.  Our promise it to, leave your or your new babies bed fresh and completely sanitised to a medical standard.

For more information and a video about allergy and asthma during pregnancy, visit http://www.acaai.org/pregnancy or give The Fresh Sleep Company a call on 01905 676100 to see how we can help in the run up to birth.

Source data : MM Hagendorens et al: Prenatal Exposure To House Dust Mite Allergen, Cord Blood T Cell Phenotype And Cytokine Production And Atopic Dermatitis During The First Year Of Life. Pediatric Allergy Immunology Volume 15 Issue 4 pp. 308-315 August 2011

 

10 questions (you wish you had never asked) about dust mites!

Dust mites are invisible without a microscope. So tiny you wouldn’t even know they are there. But they are. Hundreds, thousands even million of them in your bed and other furniture. But are they actually bad for your health? Is it worth trying to get of them? Here are 10 of the most common questions asked about the little blighters.

1. What are dust mites?

House dust mites are tiny animals. Not to be confused with bed bugs, they are not insects but are actually related to spiders. They are too small to be seen with the naked eye.

2. Where do they live?

They are all around us, although beds are a prime habitat with between 100,000 to 10 million living inside every one. They can only survive in humid environments, so our sweaty beds are their perfect hiding place!

3. What do they eat?

They feed on dead skin that humans shed every day. Over a year this adds up to about 3kg per person!!

4. Are they dangerous?

BBC News has previously referred to dust mites as ‘one of the UK’s top man killers!’. The truth is, they do not bite or cause direct harm but they can still cause problems. Their droppings contain a protein which when breathed in or touched may cause allergic symptoms such as eczema, sneezing, itchy and a running nose.

5. Are only humans affected by dust mites?

Nooooo. Our 4 legged friends can be affected too! Up to 80% of allergic cats and dogs are also sensitive to them. Symptoms include itching, ear inflammation, rashes and skin lesions.

10 questions about dust mites
The teeny tiny dead skin eating dust mite that lives in your bed!

6. Can they live on humans?

They can leave red marks especially if you suffer from a skin condition. However the good news is dust mites cannot live on humans and are not known to transmit disease.

7. Are they visible to the human eye?

They are super small – around 0.33mm. They cannot be seen and the bites cannot be felt (unlike bed bugs but that’s another story!).

8. Do they only live in dirty houses?

Sadly not. Dust mites love a clean house just as much as a less clean house. They sneak into soft furnishings and love a good bed.

9. Will a dust mite proof mattress protector save me from dust mites?

Sometimes this will be recommended if you suffer from allergies. However, they won’t massively remove your symptoms as all your bedding needs to be dust mite proofed too.

10. How can I tell if I am allergic to dust mites?

If you are allergic it is likely you will experience the common symptoms like sneezing, running nose, itchy, red or watery eyes, nasal congestion or cough. However to officially validate your allergy you have an expert take skin prick tests or RAST tests on a blood sample.

So if you have not thought too much about dust mites before, there is probably now one more question you want to know. How do I get rid of them?! Even though home cleaning practices can’t eliminate them totally from your mattress, The Fresh Sleep Company can. We specialise in providing an eco-friendly, dry process that destroys and remove all organic debris including dust mites, bacteria, viruses, mould and fungi. For more information, take a look at how it works here . Alternatively give us a call on 01905 676100 and we can answer all your questions.

Sleep is for wimps, right? WRONG!

Woman on laptop relaxed on bed with her dog

You have so many demands on your time that to fit everything in, it is not unusual to sacrifice sleep. Yet a good night’s sleep goes way beyond just boosting your mood or getting rid of the dark circles beneath your eyes. It’s vital for your wellbeing and has been scientifically proven to sit at the heart of a healthy, happy life.  Your body needs a good night’s sleep, just like it needs air and food to function at its best.

Why do I need a good night’s sleep?

On average humans spend nearly a 1/3rd of their life asleep. (Although it’s estimated that a staggering 2/3rds of the world just aren’t getting the sleep they need). During sleep your body heals itself and restores its chemical balance. Your brain creates new connections and helps memory retention.  Sleep helps you think more clearly, have quicker reflexes and focus better. It improves decreases stress, sparks creativity and even helps maintain a healthy weight and emotional stability!

Without enough sleep, your brain and body systems won’t function normally. Yawning, excessive sleepiness, irritability and daytime fatigue are all signs of sleep deprivation.  No amount of caffeine can override your body’s profound need for a good night’s sleep. It may feel ok for a while but going without sleep can quickly lead to hallucinations. Over time this will increase your risk of chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

 

The stages of sleeping

Whilst scientists don’t know exactly why we sleep , they do know how it works. Basically there are 5 stages of sleep. Stage 1 stage 2 stage 3, stage 4 and REM (Rapid Eye Movement Sleep). These stages progress cyclically from 1 through REM then again to 1. Non REM sleep (stages 1 to 4 ) is a dreamless sleep. Your breathing and heart rate are slow and regular, blood pressure is low and you are relatively still. During REM sleep, your heart rate and breathing quickens. You can have intense dreams as you brain is more active. Waking may occur after REM sleep and if it is for long enough, you may well remember it.

Typically, you go through 4 to 5 sleep cycles a night with the first one taking about 90 minutes and the rest about 100 to 120 minutes. However the amount of time you spend in each stage also depends on your age. Infants can spend 50% of their time in REM sleep vs 20% for adults which decreases as you get older.

Top tips for better night’s sleep

You may not be able to control the factors that can interfere with your sleep like stress or illness. However you can definitely adopt habits that encourage a better sleep experience.

  1. Keeping in sync with your body’s natural sleep cycle is one of the best ways to help you sleep better. Set your body’s internal clock by going to bed and getting up at the same time every day. This is because keeping a regular sleep-wake schedule will help you feel more refreshed and energised than if you sleep the same hours every night but at different times.
  2. Controlling your exposure to light helps to regulate the levels of melatonin. This is the naturally occurring hormone that is secreted when it’s dark and helps make you sleepy.  Spending more time exposed to light early on in the morning and during the day is key. Then eliminating bright screens and back lit devices before bed will keep levels in check.
  3. Timing your exercise right and avoid vigorous workouts at least 3 hours before bedtime. Exercise speeds up your metabolism, elevates body temperature and stimulates hormones such as cortisol. As a result exercising too close to bed can interfere with a good night’s sleep.
  4. Build better food and drink habits. Limit stimulants like caffeine & nicotine throughout the day and avoid heavy meals and alcohol late at night.
  5. Create a better sleep environment by keeping noise down and a ensuring your room is cool and well ventilated. Experiment with mattress toppers or pillows to get the best level of support. Establish a regular cleaning schedule to eliminate the dirt and allergens that you cannot see that have built up in your mattress and bedding over time. This means they can no longer be breathed in.