Increased prevalence of atopy among children exposed to mold in a school building

Allergy. 2001 Feb;56(2):175-9. doi: 10.1034/j.1398-9995.2001.056002175.x.


Background: The purpose of this study was to assess the occurrence of immunoglobulin E sensitization to common environmental allergens (atopy) and new allergic diseases among schoolchildren after starting school in a water-damaged school building. The staff and pupils of a Finnish elementary school with visible water damage and mold complained of respiratory and skin symptoms. The school building was examined and widespread moisture damage was found. A control school with no visible water damage was also examined. No indication of exceptional microbial growth was found in the samples taken from this school.

Methods: History of allergic diseases and the year of diagnosis were established by a questionnaire. IgE antibodies to the common environmental allergens were determined from randomly selcted groups from both schools.

Results: Elevated IgE values were significantly more common among the exposed children, as was the occurrence of new allergic diseases after the children started at the school.

Conclusions: The odds ratios for the IgE values of the study groups indicated a possible relationship between exposure to microorganisms and IgE sensitization. Exposure to spores, toxins, and other metabolites of molds may have complex results with unknown immunogenic effects that may act as a nonspecific trigger for allergic sensitization leading to the development of atopy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Finland
  • Fungi / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity / epidemiology*
  • Hypersensitivity / immunology*
  • Immunoglobulin E / analysis
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prevalence
  • Schools*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Immunoglobulin E