Infants exposed to mold in their home have more than double the risk of developing asthma, suggests new research in the Annals of Asthma, Allergy & Immunology. The risk is even greater if a parent has asthma.
The research is the first to suggest that mold exposure in babies under the age of 1 plays a critical role in children developing asthma.
Researchers from the University of Cincinnati visited the homes of 176 babies born in Cincinnati, Ohio, and northern Kentucky from 2001 to 2003, where at least one parent was allergic to a common airborne allergen. They inspected the homes for mold when the children were 1 and 7, and offered children allergy tests at ages 1, 2, 3, 4, and 7.
When children were exposed to mold as infants, they were at a significantly increased risk of asthma by the time they were 7 years old, study authors found.
The best way to protect babies from mold is to make sure that their environments are free from moisture, which allows mold to grow, said researchers. Make sure that leaky pipes are fixed and that steam has a way to escape from your bathroom. Air conditioners can also help reduce moisture levels.
Many kinds of mold are hard to spot. If you aren’t sure whether your home has mold, hire a professional to examine it—and hire someone else to clean up the mold if any is found.
“This study should motivate expectant parents—especially if they have a family history of allergy or asthma—to correct water damage and reduce the mold burden in their homes to protect the respiratory health of their children,” said researcher Tina Reponen.