Q: My 6-year-old daughter has severe dust and pollen allergies, which trigger her asthma. We’ve been invited to an aunt’s for Christmas dinner, but I know they always have a real tree set up in the living room, where the family gathers. I’d hate to miss the event – would a few hours at her house be OK for my daughter?
Dr. Watson: In general, Christmas trees themselves are not problematic but rather mold on the tree and other pollens that might be attached to it, such as tree, grass or weed pollens.
Some people have recommended spraying the tree with water before bringing it indoors, but this may be difficult in freezing weather.
To answer your question, I do not think it will be a major problem for your daughter to be there for a few hours, especially if her asthma is under good control.
Make sure you take her bronchodilator medicine with you and if she begins to have symptoms, I would suggest you leave. Also, it would be better if she did not touch the tree.
Dr. Wade Watson is a pediatric allergist and Professor of Pediatrics at Dalhousie University. He is also the head of the Division of Allergy at the IWK Health Centre in Halifax.