Mold Increases Asthma Risk in Babies
(Ivanhoe Newswire) ““Nine percent of American children will develop asthma at some point during their childhood. However, children from poor, urban families have higher chances of developing it. According to a new study, babies who live in moldy homes are three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven.
"Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development. Genetic factors are also important to consider in asthma risk, since infants whose parents have an allergy or asthma are at the greatest risk of developing asthma,” Tiina Reponen, PhD, lead study author and professor of environmental health at the University of Cincinnati, was quoted saying.
The researchers studied seven years of medical data from 176 children to determine the effects of mold exposure in early childhood. The children were part of a long-term study, the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study (CCAAPS), of more than 700 children in the Greater Cincinnati area.
Based on family medical history, the children were identified during infancy as at high risk to develop allergies. CCAAPS looked at the effects of environmental particles on childhood respiratory health and allergy development.
A tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ““ theÂ environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI), measured mold exposure levels and combined results of 36 different types of mold into one index; this describes the mold burden in the children’s homes. The index was crucial to determine the effect of mold exposure on the children’s respiratory health. It was found that eighteen percent of the children enrolled in CCAAPS were asthmatic at age seven.
"The symptoms of pediatric asthma range from a nagging cough that lingers for days or weeks to sudden episodes of shortness of breath and wheezing that require emergency treatment. If a young child’s symptoms persist and keep coming back, that’s a clue that it could be asthma,” David Bernstein, M.D., study co-author, and University of Cincinnati professor of internal medicine, was quoted saying.
Other symptoms of asthma include trouble breathing or fast breathing that causes the skin around the ribs or neck to pull in tightly, and frequent colds that settle in the chest.
"This study should motivate expectant parents, especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma, to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children," Dr. Reponen said.
SOURCE: Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology, August 5, 2011.