Aside from heredity, another major factor that contributes to childhood asthma is the home environment. Household mold, in particular, is one of the most common allergens that are known to trigger asthma attacks in children. Until recently and aside from the knowledge that mold spores released into the air can trigger allergic reactions, little was understood about the relationship between asthma and molds.
In the United States alone, more than six million children suffer from asthma. A new study, led by Dr. Tiina Reponen from the University of Cincinnati, has been looking more closely at the connection between asthma and mold. Dr. Reponen’s team’s findings, which were published in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, have identified three species of mold that are common among households where babies later on developed the respiratory condition.
The research team collected and tested dust samples from 289 homes with infants from 2001 to 2003. The samples were tested for the presence and concentrations of 36 mold species. When the children turned 7, they were given tests for asthma as well as skin tests.
Test results revealed that 24 percent of the children developed asthma. Using the Environmental Relative Moldiness Index (ERMI), which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) developed to measure the moldiness of a home, the team found that homes with the children who developed asthma had the corresponding ERMI score that usually predict the occurrence of the condition when a child reaches 7 years of age. The researchers identified three mold species that were common among these homes: Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile.
Mold growth commonly occurs in homes that have moisture problems. Some homes do not show physical signs of mold growth but still score high on an ERMI test. Previous studies have already shown that high ERMI values are often associated with the development of asthma and that dealing with the household mold problem can improve a child’s asthma.
While the study’s findings do not show a direct cause-and-effect relationship between the three species of mold and the development of asthma, Reponen says they stress “the urgent need for remediating water damage in homes, particularly in lower income, urban communities where this is a common issue.”
Source – NIH USA