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Visible Mold Increases Wheezing Risk in Infants

Sensitized infants have fivefold greater risk of wheeze if home contains mold

THURSDAY, Oct. 19 (HealthDay News) -- Visible mold but not house dust mite allergen appears to increase the risk of wheezing in high-risk infants by at least twofold, according to a study in the October issue of Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

Tiina Reponen, Ph.D., of the University of Cincinnati in Ohio, and colleagues visited the homes of 640 infants around 8 months of age who had at least one parent with a positive skin prick test to common aeroallergens. They assessed observable mold or water damage, as well as measured house dust mite allergen. At about one year of age, the infants were seen in the clinic for medical history and skin prick testing to food and 15 common aeroallergens.

The researchers found mold or water damage in more than half of homes, with five percent having major damage. Sixteen percent of homes had dust mite allergen at levels considered to increase the risk of sensitization (2 micrograms per gram). In homes with major mold or water damage, infants had a twofold increase in the risk of recurrent wheezing in general and food- or aeroallergen-sensitized infants had a fivefold increased risk. Infants sensitized to aeroallergen alone had a sixfold increased risk. Dust mite allergen was not associated with risk of wheezing.

"Visible mold was shown to be a significant risk factor for recurrent wheezing in infants at high risk of developing atopic disorders, whereas [house dust mite] exposure did not significantly increase the risk," Reponen and colleagues concluded.

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