Group Launches 'Asthma Friendly' Toy Certification

SUNDAY, Nov. 26 (HealthDay News) -- The weekend after Thanksgiving has traditionally signaled the start of the Christmas shopping season, but as Santa Claus checks his list of who's been naughty or nice, he may also have to make special arrangements for children with allergies or asthma.

Prevalence rates for both diseases have doubled in the past 20 years, and many common household items, including toys, can trigger asthma and allergy attacks.

"Stuffed toys are notorious for carrying dust mites and other substances that can be a major problem for children who take plush toys everywhere they go, including to bed," Dr. Sheryl Lucas, a allergist in Washington, D.C., said in a prepared statement.

To help Santa out, a new program to certify toys as "asthma friendly" has been launched by the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America (AAFA). These toys have been scientifically tested and proven to be better choices for children with asthma and allergies.

Toys certified as "asthma friendly" also come with instructions on how to keep them that way.

For example, certified plush toys instruct parents to place the toy in the freezer for 24 hours and then in the washing machine every four weeks in order to kill dust mites and their eggs.

"Asthma friendly" toys are now available at a number of major U.S. retailers. Certified pillows will be available in December and other products -- including mattresses, pillow protectors/encasements, vacuum cleaners, and flooring -- will be considered for certification next year, the AAFA said.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, news release, November 2006

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