Home dampness and molds, parental atopy, and asthma in childhood: a six-year population-based cohort study

Environ Health Perspect. 2005 Mar;113(3):357-61. doi: 10.1289/ehp.7242.


Previous studies of how parental atopy and exposure to dampness and molds contribute to the risk of asthma have been mainly cross-sectional or prevalent case-control studies, where selection and information bias and temporality constitute problems. We assessed longitudinally the independent and joint effects of parental atopy and exposure to molds in dwellings on the development of asthma in childhood. We conducted a population-based, 6-year prospective cohort study of 1,984 children 1-7 years of age at the baseline in 1991 (follow-up rate, 77%). The study population included 1,916 children without asthma at baseline and complete outcome information. The data collection included a baseline and follow-up survey. The outcome of interest was development of asthma during the study period. The studied determinants were parental allergic diseases and four indicators of exposure at baseline: histories of water damage, presence of moisture and visible molds, and perceived mold odor in the home. A total of 138 (7.2%) children developed asthma during the study period, resulting in an incidence rate of 125 cases per 10,000 person-years [95% confidence interval (CI), 104-146]. In Poisson regression adjusting for confounding, parental atopy [adjusted incidence rate ratio (IRR) 1.52; 95% CI, 1.08-2.13] and the presence of mold odor in the home reported at baseline (adjusted IRR 2.44; 95% CI, 1.07-5.60) were independent determinants of asthma incidence, but no apparent interaction was observed. The results of this cohort study with assessment of exposure before the onset of asthma strengthen the evidence on the independent effects of parental atopy and exposure to molds on the development of asthma.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Asthma / genetics*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Female
  • Fungi / pathogenicity
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / complications
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate / genetics*
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Odorants
  • Pedigree
  • Water


  • Water