Study Finds Infants Exposed to Mold have Increased Asthma Risk

According to a new study, mold exposure during infancy increases asthma risk, and new parents should be warned to repair water damage or other problems in their homes that could lead to development of mold.

Asthma is a chronic condition that makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, muscles around the airways constrict, making the airways smaller. Inside the airways, inflammation causes tissues to swell and produce extra mucus which clogs airways. These factors combine to make breathing difficult. A severe attack can make breathing impossible, requiring emergency medical treatment.

The Cincinnati study, which was published in the  Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (August issue) determined that children who are exposed to mold in their homes as infants are three times more likely to develop asthma as children. The research team studied 700 children in the Cincinnati area who were believed to be at high risk of allergies based on their family histories.

Exposure to mold at in childhood  played and important role in asthma development. The results showed that 18% of the children had childhood asthma by age 7. Children who lived in a home rated as having a high level of mold during the first year of life were 2.6 times more likely to have asthma as those who lived in homes with a low level of mold.

The study also showed that air-conditioning at home slightly reduced the risk of childhood asthma development.Researchers say about 9% of school-aged children in the U.S. will develop asthma. Symptoms of childhood asthma  include: wheezing, shortness of breath and coughing. Some of these asthmatic episodes required emergency treatments.

Another recent study on asthma triggers and prevention found that indoor air cleaners can significantly reduce household air pollution and lower the rates of daytime asthma symptoms to those achieved with some anti-inflammatory asthma drugs. Researchers cautioned, however, that although the air cleaners improved the overall air quality in homes, they did not reduce air nicotine levels and did not counter all detrimental effects of second-hand smoke.

In related news, last week’s high mold warning for the Midwest,  shouldn’t be taken lightly by new and expectant parents, or by parents with children in schools that have been affected by mold. In areas such as Chicago, the mold count is at toxic levels due to rain and flooding over the summer.

If you are at all uncertain if you have a mold problem, arrange for mold testing or hire a mold inspector.