Infants exposed to specific molds have higher asthma risk

August 2, 2012, University of Cincinnati Academic Health Center

(Medical Xpress) -- In the United States, one in 10 children suffers from asthma but the potential environmental factors contributing to the disease are not well known. Cincinnati-based researchers now report new evidence that exposure to three types of mold during infancy may have a direct link to asthma development during childhood.

These forms of mold—Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile—are typically found growing in water-damaged homes, putting a spotlight on the importance of mold remediation for public health.

Lead author Tiina Reponen, PhD, and colleagues report these findings in the August 2012 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the official scientific publication of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology.

In a long-term population study of nearly 300 infants,, researchers from the University of Cincinnati (UC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center assessed allergy development and the respiratory health of children annually for the first four years of life then again at age 7—an early age for objective diagnosis of asthma in children. The team also monitored home allergens and mold. All infants enrolled in the study were born to at least one parent with allergies.

They found that 25 percent of children whose parents had allergies were asthmatic by age 7. Among the multiple indoor contaminants assessed, only mold exposure during emerged as a risk factor for asthma at age 7.

"Previous scientific studies have linked mold to worsening asthma symptoms, but the relevant mold species and their concentrations were unknown, making it difficult for public health officials to develop tools to effectively address the underlying source of the problem," explains Reponen, who is a professor in the UC College of Medicine's environmental health department.

The UC-based team used the environmental relative moldiness index (ERMI), a DNA-based mold level analysis tool, to determine that exposure to Aspergillus ochraceus, Aspergillus unguis and Penicillium variabile was linked to asthma development in the high-risk study population. The ERMI tool was developed by the EPA to combine analysis results of 36 different types of mold into one index that describes a home's cumulative mold burden.

"This is strong evidence that indoor mold contributed to asthma development and this stresses the urgent need for remediating water damage in homes, particularly in lower income, urban areas where this is a common issue," says Reponen. "Therapeutics for may be more efficient if targeted toward specific mold species."

Explore further: Mold exposure during infancy increases asthma risk

Related Stories

Mold exposure during infancy increases asthma risk

August 2, 2011
Infants who live in "moldy” homes are three times more likely to develop asthma by age 7—an age that children can be accurately diagnosed with the condition.

Recommended for you

Immunosuppressive cells in newborns play important role in controlling inflammation in early life

January 15, 2018
New research led by The Wistar Institute, in collaboration with Sun Yat-sen University in China, has characterized the transitory presence of myeloid-derived suppressor cells (MDSCs) in mouse and human newborns, revealing ...

Memory loss from West Nile virus may be preventable

January 15, 2018
More than 10,000 people in the United States are living with memory loss and other persistent neurological problems that occur after West Nile virus infects the brain.

Mould discovery in lungs paves way for helping hard to treat asthma

January 15, 2018
A team at The University of Manchester have found that in a minority of patients they studied, a standard treatment for asthma—oral steroids—was associated with increased levels of the treatable mould Aspergillus in the ...

Fast food makes the immune system more aggressive in the long term

January 12, 2018
The immune system reacts similarly to a high fat and high calorie diet as to a bacterial infection. This is shown by a recent study led by the University of Bonn. Particularly disturbing: Unhealthy food seems to make the ...

Past exposures shape immune response in pediatric acute respiratory infections

January 12, 2018
Acute respiratory tract infections (ARTI) are the leading global cause of death in early childhood, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Lower respiratory tract infections, including bronchiolitis ...

Scientists identify immune cells that keep gut fungi under control

January 11, 2018
Immune cells that process food and bacterial antigens in the intestines control the intestinal population of fungi, according to a new study from Weill Cornell Medicine scientists. Defects in the fungus-fighting abilities ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.