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19 December 2012 10:39
Asthma sufferers are being advised to exercise caution over the festive period as Christmas trees have been linked to respiratory problems
A phenomenon known as Christmas Tree Syndrome that can affect asthma sufferers has been identified by scientists. The potential health problems are thought to be linked to mould on the pine trees, which can flourish when it is brought into a warm home for the festive period. American allergy specialist Dr Lawrence Kurlandsky was the first to document the issue after noticing a surge in respiratory illnesses at Christmas time.
Results from a study by Upstate Medical University in New York, published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, showed more than 50 different kinds of mould were found in cuttings of bark and pine needles from Christmas trees that were kept in homes. Over the 12 days of Christmas there was an increase in the amount of spores found in an average home from 800 per cubic metres to 5,000 - which is a significant amount when it is noted hayfever sufferers can be affected by 50 pollen per cubic metres. Professor Jonathan Brostoff, an allergy expert at King's College London, said: "It's a problem for people who already have respiratory conditions."
Asthma patients who are spending Christmas away from home this year may want to consider taking out a specialist
asthma travel insurance policy to provide some peace of mind during the festivities.
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