Asthma is one of the most common on-going diseases among children. In 2009, an estimated 7.1 million children under 18 had asthma and statistics show that the number of children around the world with asthma has been on the rise. A recent study from the University of Cincinnati (UC) and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center showed that mold may play a significant role in childhood asthma.
Asthma is a chronic condition that makes breathing difficult. During an asthma attack, muscles around the airways constrict, making the airways smaller. Inside the airways, inflammation causes tissues to swell and produce extra mucus which clogs airways. These factors combine to make breathing difficult. A severe attack can make breathing impossible, requiring emergency medical treatment.
The Cincinnati study, which was published in the August issue of the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology determined that children who are exposed to mold in their homes as infants are three times more likely to develop asthma as children. The research team studied 700 children in the Cincinnati area who were believed to be at high risk of allergies based on their family histories.
The study used a DNA-based tool developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to analyze the total amount of mold in each home. The team measured a composite of 36 types of mold in each home, then combined the results into a “mold burden” index. 18 percent of the children in the study were found to have asthma at age seven, which is the youngest age at which the researchers believed they could accurately make a diagnosis of asthma. In the general population, approximately 9 percent of schoolage children have asthma.
Children with asthma may have a persistent cough, especially while they are playing or laughing, or at night. They may also make a wheezing sound when breathing and may get tired faster than other children when playing. Children with asthma may have trouble breathing or may breathe more quickly than normal, and may be more prone to have colds that settle in the chest.
Asthma is one of the most common reasons children miss school, which can put academic achievement at risk. Asthma is also the third-greatest reason children under the age of 15 need to be hospitalized. Although there is no cure for asthma, there are medications available to help control asthma symptoms. The research team hopes the study will motivate parents with very young children or those expecting a child to fix water damage and do what they can to reduce the amount of mold in their homes to help protect their children’s health.
Science Daily. Mold Exposure During Infancy Increases Asthma Risk, Study Finds. Web. August 15, 2011.
CDC: Healthy Youth!. Asthma. Web. August 15, 2011.
PubMed Health. Asthma – pediatric. Web. August 15, 2011.
American Lung Assocation. Asthma & Children Fact Sheet. Web. August 15, 2011.
MedicineNet.com. Asthma in Children. Web. August 15, 2011.
Reviewed August 16, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith