Children who live in homes with visible mould problems have higher risks for asthma and allergies, a new research review finds.
Researchers found that across 61 international studies since the 1990s, children living in water-damaged, mouldy homes were more likely to have asthma, wheezing problems or nasal allergies than their peers.
While the findings do not prove that mould is the culprit, lab research has suggested that exposure to mould and airborne mould spores can create inflammation in the airways, said co-author Dr Christina Tischer, of the German Research Centre for Environmental Health in Neuherberg.
These latest findings underscore the importance of not only getting rid of visible mould, but also preventing it in the first place, she said.
For their review, Tischer and her colleagues separated studies that examined visible mould - the most obvious sign of a mould problem - from the smaller number in which researchers measured mould components in household dust samples.
They found that overall, children in homes with visible mould were 49% more likely to have asthma than unexposed kids, and 39% more likely to have nasal allergies.
Exposure to mould components in house dust was linked to a lower risk of those outcomes, the researchers reported May 3rd in the European Respiratory Journal.
In theory, that finding could be due to differences between visible mould and the mould components that are part of the normal mix of bacteria, fungus and other microbes in indoor air.
"Visible mould patches at the walls, or a mouldy odour, is indicating that the normal microbial composition is out of kilter, which is most often due to dampness, excessive moisture or building damages," Dr Tischer said. (Reuters Health, June 2011)