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Household Mold Doubles Child's Asthma Risk

More evidence moldy homes harm developing immune systems

FRIDAY, March 18, 2005 (HealthDay News) -- Mold and dampness in the family home doubles the risk a child will develop asthma, British researchers report.

"These findings strengthen evidence that exposure to molds increases the risk of developing asthma in childhood," study author Jouni Jaakkola, director of the Institute for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Birmingham, said in a prepared statement.

Reporting in the March issue of Environmental Health Perspectives, Jaakkola's team tracked the health of nearly 2,000 Finnish children, aged 1 to 7, for more than six years. Just over 7 percent (138) of the children went on to develop asthma during the study period.

The study identified increased asthma susceptibility in children with a parent with a history of allergies. And it also found that an odor of mold in the home increased the children's risk of asthma, independent of their parents' medical histories.

Children who lived in homes with mold odor during the initial phase of the study were more than twice as likely as other children to develop asthma in the following six years, the researchers report.

Children exposed to mold or dampness in the home were also more likely to be exposed to other allergens such as secondhand tobacco smoke or pet birds, cats or dogs.

"This study is important for families everywhere. Anyone with young children in the home should be aware of the potentially harmful effects of long-term exposure to mold and this potential link to asthma in children," Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for Environmental Health Perspectives, said in a prepared statement.

More information

The American Lung Association has more about childhood asthma.

SOURCE: Environmental Health Perspectives, news release, March 2, 2005
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