Jones, K.P. et. al. (2002)

The allergenicity of feather bedding material

Jones KP, Rolf S, Stingl C, Walters GE, Davies BH.
Allergy. 2002 Mar;57(3):266.

The continuous contact with high allergen levels is a known risk factor for atopic asthma and other allergic diseases. This is why the first important step for those allergy sufferers affected is to avoid allergens.

Study design:
This study examined the significance of sensitivity to feather beds in the case of 105 patients known to be allergic to house dust mites. For the mandatory prick test the allergens used were for house dust mites (Der p1), grasses, cat hair, extracts from chicken and duck feathers, and polyester filling material. The results of the skin prick test were positive with a wheal size of > 3mm compared to the control group (25 non-atopics).

All atopic patients responded to house dust mites and some also responded to grasses and/or cat hair. The protein concentration of both feather extracts was very small, an indicator of the effectiveness of the washing process before the feathers are processed as bedding. Consequently it was also not possible to furnish proof of positive reactions to the feather or synthetic fillings.

The conclusion of the study is that filling material made of feathers is not a manifestation of a feather allergy.
Finally, it is an interesting point that feathers are washed several times before being processed and therefore exhibit less allergy potential than synthetic fillings.