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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 2006 Oct;97(4):539-45.

Mold damage in homes and wheezing in infants.

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Department of Environmental Health, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, Ohio 45267-0056, USA.



In most studies that investigate the association of mold or water damage and respiratory disorders in infants, the analysis is not adjusted for exposure to house dust mite (HDM), which is also a known cause of respiratory illnesses.


To investigate the relationship between visually observable mold or water damage and HDM (Der f 1) levels and the prevalence of lower respiratory tract symptoms and allergen sensitization in infants of atopic parents as part of a prospective birth cohort study.


On-site home visits (at the infants' age of 8 months) were performed to evaluate observable mold or water damage and HDM exposure. At a clinic visit near the infant's first birthday, medical histories, including parent-reported wheezing episodes, and a skin prick test to food and 15 common aeroallergens were conducted in 640 infants.


More than half of the homes were found to have mold or water damage, and 5% had major mold or water damage with visible mold at 0.2 m2 or more. Only 16% of homes had a HDM allergen (Der f 1) concentration of more than 2 microg/g. Major mold or water damage increased the risk of recurrent wheezing nearly 2 times in infants, 5 times in food or aeroallergen-sensitized infants, and 6 times in aeroallergen-sensitized infants. Neither visible mold or water damage nor HDM exposure was associated with sensitization to either mold or aeroallergens.


Visible mold was shown to be a significant risk factor for recurrent wheezing in infants at high risk of developing atopic disorders, whereas HDM exposure did not significantly increase the risk.

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