A Finnish study found that moisture damage in the rooms where children spend most of their time led to an increased asthma risk, according to a February 16 story published in the journal Pediatrics.
A civil engineer studied the homes of nearly 400 children when they were 5 months old, noting the level of damage from moisture or mold. Most of the homes, located evenly in rural and suburban areas, had some damage.
The parents answered questions about their children's respiratory symptoms, as well as any asthma or bronchitis diagnosed by a doctor at the ages of 1,18 months, 2, and each year until age 6.
Moisture damage in the rooms where young children typically spend most of their time – living rooms, bedrooms and kitchens – proved most problematic.
These children had been studied previously, when they were younger. In this study, researchers sought follow up to see if any episodes of wheezing the children had as infants or young toddlers persisted and became physician-diagnosed cases of asthma by the age of 6.
In addition, they checked to see if certain children were more susceptible to the effects of moisture damage or mold in their homes. To do that, they tested the children's blood at ages 1 and 6 to measure immunoglobulin E (IgE) levels to certain environmental and food allergens. IgE measures antibodies in the blood to allergens. In the absence of any other testing or clinical history, it is only a guide to how sensitive a person might be and is not a true measure of how allergic a person is. But for this study, it was used as a guide to indicate how “atopic,” or allergic, the children were.
Researchers found that moisture damage and mold in early infancy in the living room, bedroom and kitchen was associated with later asthma development. In addition, the “atopic” children were more vulnerable to these effects.
The study indicates how poor-quality housing may have long-lasting effects on children’s health.