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Case Study About Mold Growth in Homes and Wheezing in Infants

Mold growth is common in many homes, especially in areas with a lot of moisture, such as the laundry room, kitchen, or bathroom. If mold is growing in your home, it can become a persistent issue affecting you and your family's health, especially your young ones. One potential danger of mold growth is worsening respiratory problems and allergies.

Are the conditions of your home affecting your baby's health? Learn more about the link between mold growth and recurrent wheezing in infants in this case study.

Background of the Case Study

Longstanding research has shown that breathing problems are related to indoor mold exposure. Past studies have indicated a five-fold rise in wheezing symptoms in places with mold or water damage.

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati wanted to conduct an innovative study that added unique information to what is known about mold growth and respiratory complications. They titled the study “Mold Growth in Homes and Wheezing in Infants.” The goal of the research focused on the links between breathing problems and allergies due to mold, water damage, and dust mite exposure.

Overall the research showed that visible mold is a critical risk factor for recurrent wheezing in babies


The researchers developed a thorough and strategic protocol to carry out the study.

Study population

The study was conducted in Cincinnati, OH and Northern Kentucky. The research team recruited infants based on the following criteria:

  • At least one parent has allergic symptoms
  • The allergic parent has a positive skin prick test (SPT) to at least 1 predetermined allergen such as white oak, American elm, pet dander, or dust mites. These contaminants are also called aeroallergens.

The study included babies born between 2001 and 2003.

On-site home visit and exposure assessment

Researchers used a two-part process to assess mold exposure.

First, small evaluation teams personally visited each home and visually inspected for mold and water damage. The team took special note of the location and size of mold growth. Researchers also interviewed the parents about any past water damage or mold infestation in the home.

After the home visit, families were called for a doctor's appointment. The baby was tested for allergies to milk, eggs, and different aeroallergens. Medical evaluators checked to see if the baby had any wheezing symptoms, and they asked the parents about any history of breathing problems.

Overall, 640 families completed both the at-home evaluation and clinic appointment.


The researchers categorized mold or water damage into three levels based on the size of visible mold:

  • Class 0 was no damage
  • Class 1 was minor damage
  • Class 2 was major damage

For purposes of the study, recurrent wheezing was defined as at least 2 episodes of wheezing without other sickness in the last year.

Researchers counted how many infants had recurrent wheezing from the total number of families that participated in the study. Researchers also used the family's level of mold or water damage to figure out if this had any effect on recurrent wheezing.

Results of the Study

Recurrent wheezing was a significant issue in babies who lived in homes with major mold damage. Researchers found that the risk of recurrent wheezing was two times higher in houses with Class 2 mold damage compared to places with Class 1 or 0 damage.

The issue is even worse in babies allergic to milk, pet dander, tree pollen, and other triggers. Babies with allergies in a Class 2 home were five times more likely to develop recurrent wheezing than babies in a Class 1 or 0 home.

Babies with specific allergies to aeroallergens in a Class 2 home had a six-fold higher risk of recurrent wheezing than babies in a Class 1 or 0 house.

Discussion of Main Points

The study results suggest that mold and water damage significantly threaten infant health. Babies spend most of their time in the home environment, so preventing mold or water damage is essential to reduce the risk of wheezing and other health effects.

The results indicate that high levels of mold damage are needed to increase the likelihood of recurrent wheezing. So a small amount may not influence wheezing symptoms. However, the study also reveals that mold not only causes some breathing issues, but it also causes recurrent wheezing symptoms that can potentially bother a child throughout their youth.

Caution and preventative measures may be required to protect the respiratory health of infants and children living with mold in the home. Additional care should be given to children with allergies, because these young ones may have a higher likelihood of persistent wheezing.

How Does Mold Affect Infants

The American Academy of Pediatrics cites several health consequences of mold in young ones. When babies and children are exposed to mold in the home, they may develop an allergic reaction. This can look like:

  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Watery, itchy, or irritated eyes

Studies suggest that mold exposure at an early age can result in asthma in genetically susceptible children.

Young children who breathe in mold or mold spores may also develop lung or sinus infections. Inhaled mold can cause a type of lung inflammation called hypersensitivity pneumonitis. This reaction has similar symptoms to pneumonia:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Fatigue
  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Fever

Some molds can produce toxins that have adverse effects on the body. Although there is insufficient current evidence to make any cause-and-effect claims, some small reports show a link between mold toxins and acute idiopathic pulmonary hemorrhage. This condition causes bleeding in the lungs of an otherwise healthy infant exposed to an especially harmful type of mold.

Toxins that contaminate food can cause organ damage in the nervous system, stomach or intestines, and kidneys. This is especially harmful as excess moisture in the kitchen can be a breeding ground for mold.

Can Mold Exposure Cause Wheezing in Infants?

As shown, there are many ways that mold damage can affect the health of infants and children.

A landmark report from the Institute of Medicine established a confirmed association between wheezing and indoor mold. This does not mean that mold directly causes wheezing all the time. However, it is important to know that environmental contaminants like mold are crucial factors in respiratory health. Individual studies, such as the one conducted by the University of Cincinnati, further show a link between mold exposure and wheezing in infants.

So, how exactly does mold cause wheezing? Mold can cause wheezing by irritating the respiratory tract. When the body detects an unwanted contaminant, it reacts by causing inflammation and constricting the airway. This results in poor breathing.

Mold Damage at Home and What to Do

If you notice that your child has new symptoms of wheezing or difficulty breathing, it may be time to visit the doctor. Your pediatrician may highlight the health effects of mold exposure on your child and may advise you to take necessary measures to remove and prevent mold in the home.

Reasons to Choose Mold KO for Mold Remediation

Mold KO is a fully licensed and IICRC certified mold remediation service. Our experienced technicians provide a 100% satisfaction guaranteed service to eradicate all mold from your home. Our team is available 7 days a week to address all your mold removal needs.

At Mold KO, we know that mold contamination can profoundly affect your family's health. Our tailored mold remediation process targets mold from the source and leaves your home in a safer and healthier condition than before.

Need Professional Mold Services? Reach Out to Mold Ko

Many studies have shown that mold can have harmful consequences on health, especially for infants and children. Most of these bad outcomes relate to allergies and lung issues. However, dangerous types of molds can potentially affect any part of the body. That's why taking the proper steps to remove and prevent mold damage in the home is essential.

Have you noticed any mold, water damage, or odor in your home? Has your family been experiencing bad allergies? If so, it is time to call Mold KO to “knock-out” your mold. Call us today at 888-253-4551.

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Case Study About Mold Growth in Homes and Wheezing in Infants
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