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Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2004 Nov;18(6):441-7.

Association of early-onset otitis media in infants and exposure to household mould.

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Yale Center for Perinatal, Pediatric and Environmental Epidemiology, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA.


Otitis media is one of the most common infections of early childhood. Children who first experience acute otitis media at an early age (before 6 months) are at increased risk for recurrent otitis media. This prospective study investigated exposure to measured levels of airborne household mould and the risk of early otitis media in the first 6 months of life among a cohort of infants at high risk for asthma. Between September 1996 and December 1998, women were invited to participate if they had at least one other child with physician-diagnosed asthma. Mothers were given a standardised questionnaire within 4 months of their infant's birth. Airborne mould samples were also taken at this time, and culturable fungi were categorised into four levels according to the report of the Commission of European Communities: 0 (undetectable), 1-499 colony forming units (CFU)/m(3) (low), 500-999 CFU/m(3) (medium), > or =1000 CFU/m(3) (high). Infant respiratory symptoms were collected during quarterly telephone interviews at 6, 9 and 12 months of age. Of the 806 children in the study, 27.8% experienced otitis media before six months of age. Household levels of Penicillium and Cladosporium were modestly associated with the number of otitis media episodes (P = 0.056 and 0.081 respectively). After controlling for potential confounders, Penicillium and Cladosporium were not associated with early otitis media. High levels of 'other' mould (defined as total spore count minus counts for Penicillium, Cladosporium, and yeast) were associated with early otitis media (OR 3.49; 95% CI [1.38, 8.79]). We also found associations between day-care outside of the home and birth during the summer or fall season with early otitis media. This study is suggestive of a relationship between otitis media and mould that warrants further study.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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