Glasgow, NJ. et. al. (2011)

Feather bedding and childhood asthma associated with house dust mite sensitisation: a randomised controlled trial.

Glasgow NJ, Ponsonby AL, Kemp A, Tovey E, van Asperen P, McKay K, Forbes S.
Arch Dis Child. 2011 Jun;96(6):541-7. Epub 2011 Mar 30.

A large number of epidemiological studies have shown that there is no relationship between asthma symptoms and the use of bedding (pillows and duvets) made of feathers and down. The sensitisation to house dust mites (Der p1) was lower than when pillows and duvets with synthetic filling were used.

Study design:
The study considered whether bedding made of down and feathers is suitable for reducing the severity of asthma in children. A comparison was made between new pillows and covers made of feathers and down and bedding with synthetic material, which were used over a period of one year. All participating children (7 – 14 years) reacted positively to allergy tests for house dust mites. The vast majority of study participants (> 70%) used a mattress with a mite-proof encasing.

Over the period of one year no difference between the two groups was established in respect of the severity of the asthma experienced by study participants.

Bedding made of feathers and down is just as suitable for children with house dust mite allergies as synthetic bedding. The study demonstrates that the common recommendation that allergy sufferers should avoid down and feather beds is no longer valid.
The main habitat of house dust mites is the mattress. Consequently, mite-proof mattress encasings are of greater significance for reducing allergies than the selection of pillows and covers.