Mold exposure and higher rates of asthma in children

Fungi (molds) produce a wide range of toxins (mycotoxins) and allergenic (allergy causing) compounds which can induce or worsen asthma, nasal problems and other allergies. A number of published studies have reported associations between indoor exposure to mold and/or water damage and asthma in children and adults. Two recent studies linking mold exposure and asthma are summarized below.


A study of 31,742 children in 6 European countries was made from birth through childhood. Exposure to visible mold and/or visible dampness/ water damage was associated with significantly higher levels of asthma symptoms during the first 2 months after birth (odds ratio (OR) 1.39, 95% confidence interval (95% CI) of 1.05-1.84). Exposure to visible mold or dampness was also associated with a significantly greater risk of allergic rhinitis (nasal congestion) at 3 to 10 years of age (OR 1.18, 95% CI 1.09-1.28).

Another set of studies examined levels of mold DNA in the housedust from homes of 229 asthmatic children and 84 non-asthmatic children from Boston, Kansas City and San Diego. Significantly higher levels of indoor molds were found in the homes of the asthmatic children as compared to the non-asthmatic children. Specific molds that were significantly higher in the asthmatic children homes included: Alternaria alternata; Aspergillus niger; Aureobasidium pullulans; Cladosporium sphaerospermum, cladosporodes and herbarum; Epicoccumn nigrum, Mucor species; Penicillium brevicompactum, chrysogenum and variabile; Trichoderma viride; and Wallemia sebi.

C Tischer et al. Meta-analysis of mould and dampness exposure on asthma and allergy in eight European birth cohorts: an ENRIECO initiative. Allergy 2011;66:1570-9.

Stephen Vesper et al. Higher relative moldiness index (ERMI) values measured in homes of asthmatic children in Boston, Kansas City and San Diego. Journal of Asthma 2012:1-7.

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