Household mold increases kids' asthma risk

August 16, 2012

Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that infants exposed to 3 types of mold in their homes were more likely to develop asthma by the time they were aged 7 years. Targeting these specific mold species could lead to more efficient asthma treatment. More >>

Researchers from Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center found that infants exposed to 3 types of mold in their homes were more likely to develop asthma by the time they were aged 7 years. Targeting these specific mold species could lead to more efficient asthma treatment.

The population-based Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study examined the effects of environmental particles on childhood respiratory health and allergy development. Home dust samples were taken when the infants were aged 8 months and tested for concentrations of 36 molds that comprise the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI) and endotoxin, dust mite, cat, dog, and cockroach allergens. Children were evaluated when aged 7 years for asthma based on symptoms and objective measures of lung function.

Of 289 children included in the study, 24% were diagnosed with asthma. High ERMI values in the child’s home during infancy were associated with increased risk of asthma. For each 10-unit increase in ERMI value at 1 year, the risk of asthma at 7 years was 1.8 times higher. After controlling for other potential risk factors, the researchers found that exposure to Aspergillus ochraceus, A unguis, and Penicillium variabile was significantly associated with development of asthma. These 3 mold species are common to water-damaged buildings.

The researchers conclude that although the findings do not prove that these specific molds cause asthma, they suggest that correcting water and mold problems in homes of children at high risk for asthma because of family history or other factors may mitigate some cases of asthma. Mold assessment using ERMI, which is more sensitive than visual inspection, might help in identifying high-risk homes, they add.

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