Visible Mold Puts Infants at Risk for Asthma Development


Visible mold exposure early in life may be a strong risk factor for early asthma development, but exposure to mold components with no visible mold present may have an opposite effect according to a study published this month in Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, the scientific journal of the American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI).

Investigators from the University of Cincinnati and the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS) found children at age 3 years with high visible mold in the home during infancy, evaluated through home inspection, were seven times more likely to have a positive Asthma Predictive Index (API) criteria. In contrast, those with exposure to fungal components – or (1-3)-β-D-Glucan, a measure of biologically active exposure – were at a decreased risk. The study included a birth cohort of children born to atopic parents.

Previous studies have shown that home dampness and visible mold are associated with the severity of respiratory symptoms in children, but few studies have investigated whether exposure to dampness or visible mold enhance risk for development of asthma in young children, Yulia Y. Iossifova, MD, PhD, and colleagues report.

“The unique aspect of this study is that we did not rely on parental reports of mold,” said Tina Reponen, PhD, professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati. “Instead, the homes were evaluated by trained teams before the child’s first birthday. After this, the children were prospectively followed by annual clinic visits to evaluate their respiratory health.”

According to the authors, using standardized evaluation of visible mold, the study “prospectively demonstrates that exposure to high visible mold during the first year of life is associated with higher risk of asthma. This study also shows that an increase in exposure to high (1-3)-β-D-Glucan concentrations (>133 μg/g), component of mold, may decrease the risk of future asthma based on the API.”

Of the 483 children in this study, almost half (7 of 16) with high visible mold at home had a positive API, and one-third (4 of 11) had atopic wheezing. Of the total cohort, 203 children (42 percent) had aeroallergen sensitization and 19 (3.9 percent) had mold sensitization. Mother’s smoking was the second strongest predictor of future asthma based on the API.

Researchers conclude that “home remediation measures to remove visible mold and parental smoking cessation may prevent asthma development in high-risk children.”

Source: AmericanCollege of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (ACAAI)

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