Mold and dampness in the family home doubles the risk that a child will develop asthma, according to a study conducted by British researchers.
Study author Jouni Jaakkola, director of the Institute for Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Birmingham, Alabama, and his team tracked the health of nearly 2,000 Finnish children, ages 1 to 7, for more than six years. More than 7% (138) of the children went on to develop asthma during the study period.
The study identified increased asthma susceptibility in children with a parent who had a history of allergies.
Jaakkola and his colleagues also found that an odor of mold in the home increased a child's risk of asthma, independent of the parents' medical histories.
Children who lived in houses that had a mold odor during the initial phase of the study were more than twice as likely as other children to develop asthma during 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.
"These findings strengthen evidence that exposure to molds increases the risk of developing asthma in childhood," Jaakkola says.
"This study is important for families everywhere," says Dr. Jim Burkhart, science editor for Environmental Health Perspectives.
"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," he adds.
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