`Christmas Tree Syndrome` causing illnesses

Last Updated: Dec 19, 2011, 13:11 PM IST

London: Feeling under the weather? You`ve got `Christmas Tree Syndrome`, say researchers.

A new study by Upstate Medical University, part of the State University of New York, has blamed Christmas trees for triggering a range of health complaints -- from wheezing and coughing to lethargy and insomnia.

The condition -- `Christmas Tree Syndrome` -- is caused by mould growing on the trees, whose spores lead to problems when breathed in, the researchers have explained in `Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology` journal.

They analysed clippings from 28 Christmas trees including needles and bark, from a range of species, and found 53 cases of mould. Of these, 70 per cent can cause symptoms including itchy noses, watery eyes, coughing, shortness of breath, chest pains, feelings of fatigue and problems sleeping.

Some of the mould identified can even lead to long term lung problems and conditions such as bronchitis and pneumonia.

The mould occurs on the trees naturally, but thrives in the warm conditions of a well-heated home at Christmas.

The researchers have also reported another study which found that after a Christmas tree has been on display for a fortnight, the number of airborne mould spores increases from
800 per 35 cubic feet to 5,000.

Dr Lawrence Kurlandsky, who led the research, said he had treated patients where there was a clear link between their illness and their Christmas tree.

"I have had patients where the association between illness and the presence of a Christmas tree seem to be pretty clear cut.

"I explain that there are nicer places to be on Christmas Eve than seeing the doctor and to perhaps just not have a tree or have an artificial one," he was quoted by `The Daily Telegraph` as saying.

PTI