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Airborne mold spores increase kids' risk for multiple allergies

CINCINNATI--University of Cincinnati (UC) researchers say exposure to a certain group of fungal spores--abundant in the air that we breathe every day--can make young children more susceptible to developing multiple allergies later in life.

The team found that infants who were exposed to basidiospores and other airborne fungal spores--specifically penicillium/aspergillus and alternaria--early in life were more likely to develop allergies to mold, pollen, dust mites, pet dander and certain foods as they grew older.

This is the first study to show a relationship between specific airborne fungal spores and an increased risk for multiple allergies in children, the UC team reports in an upcoming edition of Pediatric Allergy and Immunology and an early online edition June 14.

A fungus is a plantlike organism that grows by releasing tiny reproductive cells (spores) into the air. Mold is a type of fungus that can grow on any moist surface--including wood, drywall and cement.

Previous allergy studies focused on visible mold or total mold concentrations, not the identification of specific airborne fungal spores. The UC-led study showed that exposure to specific airborne fungal spores may increase allergic reactions and others could help reduce them.

These findings reinforce the idea that not all fungi are created equal, says Tiina Reponen, PhD, professor of environmental health at UC and corresponding author on the study.

"It turns out that the health effects of airborne fungal spores are more complicated than we thought," she says. "It's not enough to look just at total mold in our homes and offices. We need to understand how specific types of mold interact with each other in the environment to affect our respiratory health. Some fungi can have harmful effects on the body, but others may be beneficial." "There are literally thousands of different types of mold in the air we breathe," adds Melissa Osborne, a graduate
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Contact: Amanda Harper
amanda.harper@uc.edu
513-558-4657
University of Cincinnati
14-Jun-2006


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