In the United States, one in 10 children suffers from asthma but the potential environmental factors contributing to the disease are not well known. Cincinnati-based researchers now report new evidence that exposure to three types of mold during infancy may have a direct link to asthma development during childhood.
These forms of mold-Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile-are typically found growing in water-damaged homes, putting a spotlight on the importance of mold remediation for public health.
Lead author Tiina Reponen, PhD, and colleagues report these findings in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official scientific publication of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.
In a long-term population study of nearly 300 infants,, researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center assessed allergy development and the respiratory health of children annually for the first four years of life then again at age 7-an early age for objective diagnosis of asthma in children. The team also monitored home allergens and mold. All infants enrolled in the study were born to at least one parent with allergies.
They found that 25 percent of children whose parents had allergies were asthmatic by age 7. Among the multiple indoor contaminants assessed, only mold exposure during infancy emerged as a risk factor for asthma at age 7.