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There is increasing evidence for a role for bedding items in the development of asthma. The use of some forms of synthetic bedding, such as foam mattresses and pillows, is associated with a significantly increased risk of childhood wheeze. Our aim was to examine prospectively whether the use of synthetic cocoon/baby nests in infancy is associated with the subsequent development of wheeze in childhood. Data collected in 1988 as part of the Tasmanian Infant Health Survey were linked to the cross-sectional Childhood Asthma Survey conducted in 1995 in Tasmania, Australia. We were able to match 863 records out of the 1111 in the 1988 survey. Information including parental, child-care, and the infant's sleeping environment was collected at home interview in 1988 when the infant was 1 month of age. Data including sleep environment and asthma symptoms were available for each child at age 7 years. A generalised linear model was used to calculate the adjusted relative risk (RR) estimates for symptoms of wheeze and infant cocoon use. For children who were placed in a cocoon in infancy, there was an increased risk of recent wheeze (adjusted RR = 4.33 [95% CI 2.08, 9.02]) and night wheeze (adjusted RR = 3.35 [95% CI 1.52, 7.39]) at age 7 years. In view of the increasing prevalence of childhood asthma, the identification of potentially modifiable environmental factors which might operate in infancy is of importance. The present findings implicate infant bedding choice as a significant factor and further studies on the infant sleeping environment are indicated.

Original publication




Journal article


Paediatr perinat epidemiol

Publication Date





281 - 289


Asthma, Bedding and Linens, Child, Family Health, Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Prevalence, Prospective Studies, Respiratory Sounds, Smoking, Tasmania