Exposure to mould increases asthma risk
Exposure to mould or dampness in the home may increase the risk of asthma, according to two studies presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress 2016 held in London, UK.
In the multinational MeDALL* study, exposure to dampness and/or mould in early childhood (from birth to one year) was associated with an increased risk of developing asthma up to adolescence (adjusted odds ratio [adjOR], 1.14, 95 percent confidence interval [CI], 0.99‒1.31; borderline significance). Continual exposure also significantly increased the risk for asthma (adjOR, 1.24, 95 percent CI, 1.02‒1.51). [ERS 2016, abstract OA 3319]
In the Telemark study, a population-based study of asthma in Telemark, Norway, 3,090 individuals reported exposure to dampness or mould at home, 37 percent (n=1,128) of whom reported atopy while 1,895 were nonatopics.
Atopics had an increased risk of (ever) asthma (adjOR, 1.2, 95 percent CI, 1.0‒1.4), wheezing (adjOR, 1.4, 95 percent CI, 1.2‒1.6), chronic cough (adjOR, 1.5, 95 percent CI, 1.3‒1.8), and productive cough (adjOR, 1.4, 95 percent CI, 1.0‒1.8), as well as a higher incidence of asthma medication use in the previous 12 months (adjOR, 1.2, 95 percent CI, 1.0‒1.4; p<0.05 for all).
Nonatopics had a higher risk of (ever) wheezing (adjOR, 1.7, 95 percent CI, 1.5‒1.9), chronic cough (adjOR, 1.6, 95 percent CI, 1.4‒1.9), and productive cough (adjOR, 1.6, 95 percent CI, 1.3‒2.1). [ERS 2016, abstract PA 4289]
The Telemark study comprised 16,099 participants aged 16‒50 years who responded to questionnaires on mould or dampness exposure and respiratory health. The MeDALL study included 14,384 individuals from seven European birth cohorts. Data on the incidence of asthma and allergic rhinitis as well as exposure to mould and dampness from childhood through to adolescence were provided by parents of the study subjects via questionnaires.
“Out of numerous suggested risk factors for asthma onset, the risk for living in a damp home is one of the most consistent findings, alongside exposure to secondhand smoke,” said Dr Joachim Heinrich from the University Hospital, Ludwig Maximilians University, Munich, Germany, author of the MeDALL study.
According to Dr Regine Abrahamsen from the Department of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at Telemark Hospital who authored the Telemark study, these findings should draw attention to the association between dampness and mould and respiratory symptoms.
“Making people more aware of the risks will hopefully mean more action is taken to prevent them living in these conditions,” she said.