Aim of the study: Initially, we performed a questionnaire study on 622 school children aged 7 to 13 y. The study was supplemented with a clinical study including skin prick tests to 13 molds in 212 (34%) children with doctor-diagnosed asthma or parental-reported wheezing or prolonged cough. These children were attending one of two elementary schools, one with moisture problems (index) school, the other being the control school. The objective of the study was to evaluate whether exposure to moisture and sensitization to molds are associated with respiratory manifestations in school children.
Results: The prevalence of asthma was 4.8%, which was similar in the children from both schools. The children from the index school more often had wheezing (16% vs 6%; p <0.001) and cough (21% vs 9%: p < 0.001) symptoms than control children. Positive skin reactions to molds were rare (2.4%), being present in 7% of asthmatic and in 1-2% of non-asthmatic children (NS). Lower respiratory tract infections were more common in the spring than in the fall in children from the index school, but not in control children, and the difference between the schools was significant in emergency visits (OR =2.0, p <0.01) and antibiotic courses (OR = 2.1, p < 0.01).
Conclusions: We found evidence of an association between moisture or mold problems in the school building and the occurrence of respiratory infections, repeated wheezing and prolonged cough in school children.