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Children are at 2 times the risk of developing asthma if they live in homes with mold and dampness. For more than 6 years, the researchers followed 2000 Finnish children aged 1 to 7. Of the participants, 138 children (7%) went on to develop asthma over the study's duration.
The results of the study revealed increased asthma susceptibility in children with a parent with a history of allergies. Also, odor of mold in the home raised the risk of asthma, independent of parents'medical histories. During the initial phase of the study, children who lived in homes with mold odor were >2 times as likely to develop asthma in the following 6 years, compared with other children. Children exposed to mold or dampness were also more prone to exposure to other allergens such as secondhand tobacco smoke or pet birds, cats, or dogs.
The researchers concluded, "This study is important for families everywhere. Anyone with young children in the home should be aware of the potentially harmful effects of long-term exposure to mold and this potential link to asthma in children," reported Jim Burkhart, PhD, science editor for Environmental Health Perspectives (March 2005).