Methods: Major data bases were searched for the terms allergens and toys. Excluded were articles dealing with fragrance or contact allergens.
Results: From 1982 to present there have been six published studies presenting allergen levels on soft toys. In all of these allergens from house dust mites (Der p 1 and Der f 1) were measured with widely different levels. Lower levels were found in soft toys from child centres. Two of the studies presented dog (Can f 1) and cat (Fel d 1) allergen levels with one study finding that if there was a dog or cat in the home this resulted in higher levels of Can f 1 or Fel d 1. One presented cockroach allergen (Bla g 1 and Bla g 2) levels, albeit at very low levels. Factors associated with allergen levels on soft toys included age of the toys, location, cleaning activities and presence of pets.
Conclusions: Given their wide spread use by infants, soft toys are an important source of inhalant allergen exposure that needs to be taken into account in epidemiological studies and more research is required to find exposure reduction techniques.