Background: Several cross-sectional studies during the past 10 years have observed an increased risk of allergic outcomes for children living in damp or mouldy environments.
Objective: The objective of this study was to investigate whether reported mould or dampness exposure in early life is associated with the development of allergic disorders in children from eight European birth cohorts.
Methods: We analysed data from 31 742 children from eight ongoing European birth cohorts. Exposure to mould and allergic health outcomes were assessed by parental questionnaires at different time points. Meta-analyses with fixed- and random-effect models were applied. The number of the studies included in each analysis varied based on the outcome data available for each cohort.
Results: Exposure to visible mould and/or dampness during first 2 years of life was associated with an increased risk of developing asthma: there was a significant association with early asthma symptoms in meta-analyses of four cohorts [0-2 years: adjusted odds ratios (aOR), 1.39 (95% CI, 1.05-1.84)] and with asthma later in childhood in six cohorts [6-8 years: aOR, 1.09 (95% CI, 0.90-1.32) and 3-10 years: aOR, 1.10 (95% CI, 0.90-1.34)]. A statistically significant association was observed in six cohorts with symptoms of allergic rhinitis at school age [6-8 years: aOR, 1.12 (1.02-1.23)] and at any time point between 3 and 10 years [aOR, 1.18 (1.09-1.28)].
Conclusion: These findings suggest that a mouldy home environment in early life is associated with an increased risk of asthma particularly in young children and allergic rhinitis symptoms in school-age children.
© 2011 John Wiley & Sons A/S.