Damp homes and mold are a bummer for city kids with asthma
Children who live in U.S. inner cities (central commercial and often low socioeconomic areas within major cities) have a high incidence of asthma. It is known that these kids have more allergies to fungus (molds) than children who live in the suburbs or more prosperous residential neighborhoods. However, not much is understood about the relationship between exposures to fungus and asthma morbidity (worsening or severity of the disease).
Given inner-city housing conditions like poor ventilation, leaks, and dampness which can contribute to indoor allergen problems, fungi may be a real culprit in making asthma worse for children who live in these inner city areas.
In a study published in the March 2010 issue of The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI), Pongracic and colleagues report on their research on this relationship. They studied 5-11 year old asthmatic children enrolled in the Inner-City Asthma Study (ICAS) who showed a positive skin test to a fungus. During the 2-year study, the researchers monitored the children’s asthma symptoms and number of asthma flare-ups every 2 months and, every 6 months, took measurements of the fungal spores in the air inside and outside of their homes.
The authors found that study participants who had an allergy to fungal allergens had more days of uncontrolled asthma symptoms. The also found that exposure to outdoor and indoor fungi, particularly Penicillium, worsened these children’s asthma. Outdoor fungal exposure was related to worsening symptoms and indoor fungal exposure increased the number of asthma flare-ups.
The authors caution that fungal exposure should be viewed as a potential cause of poor asthma control in this population. Their results suggest new possibilities for future programs and changes that can improve the environments of inner city asthmatic children.
The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology (JACI) is the official scientific journal of the AAAAI, and is the most-cited journal in the field of allergy and clinical immunology.