From: David A Gabel, ENN
Published August 5, 2011 10:29 AM

Mold Exposure Has Greater Impact on Infants

The inhalation of mold can be extremely hazardous for the lungs, respiratory system, and overall well-being. Some people are more susceptible than others to the symptoms caused by airborne mold, but it is unhealthy for all. A new study recently published in the journal Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology has shown that mold exposure has much greater impact in infants during their formative years. It found that infants living in moldy homes are much more likely to develop asthma by age 7.

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"Early life exposure to mold seems to play a critical role in childhood asthma development," says Tiina Reponen, PhD, lead study author and University of Cincinnati (UC) professor of environmental health. "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."

Mold growth is inextricably linked to environments with elevated levels of moisture. For example, basements are a common spot for mold because of underground moisture, periodic flooding from storms, and lack of air flow. Mold will start growing on surfaces like drywall, concrete, plywood, and other building materials. Microscopic spores can then be released into the air and find their way into the lungs. Once in the body, the spores can cause fungal infections, allergic reactions, irritation of the eye, nose, and throat, etc. Long-term effects include serious respiratory infections like asthma or bronchitis.

The recent study, conducted by researchers from UC and Cincinnati Children's Hospital, utilized seven years of comprehensive data for 176 children. The data was used to evaluate the effects of mold exposure from early life. The analysis took into account the likelihood of developing allergies based on family medical history.

The children in the study came from a much larger study in the Cincinnati area. The 176 children selected come from homes which contained mold. Mold was measured in the their homes using an EPA method known as environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI). In this method, mold exposure levels are measured using a DNA-based analysis tool which combines the analysis of 36 different mold types into a single index.

Of the 176 children in the study, 18 percent were asthmatic. Nationally, only 9 percent of children have asthma. Most asthma cases are children who grew up in poor, urban families. Lead author, Reponen, said, "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."

Link to published article: http://www.annallergy.org/article/S1081-1206%2811%2900313-9/abstract

Photo credit: http://allfloridahomeinspection.com/mold/mold.html

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