Objective: We performed a clinical study in 99 children attending schools with moisture problems and compared the findings with those of 34 children from a reference school. The aim of the study was to evaluate the possible association between respiratory or allergic diseases in the pupils and moisture or mould problems in the school buildings.
Results: Asthma was diagnosed in nine (6.7%) children: eight of them came from the moisture-problem schools and all were over 10 y old. In addition, 17 non-asthmatic children had suffered from wheezing and 21 from long-term cough, both symptoms being suggestive of occult asthma. If moisture problems were observed both at home and in the school, the frequency of asthma was 21% and the combined frequency of asthma and wheezing was 43%. The presence of allergic rhinoconjuntivitis or atopic dermatitis had no association with moisture or mould problems. We performed skin-prick tests to 13 moulds in all the 133 children. A positive reaction (> 3 mm) was observed in only six (5%) of them. All six positive children reacted to at least one moisture-indicative mould, Fusarium roseum, Aspergillus fumigatus, Phoma herbarum or Rhodotorula rubra. None of these cases came from the reference school. There was a significant association between positive reactions to moisture-indicative moulds and asthma; four (44%) of the nine children with asthma had such reactions. In addition, all the 6 reactive children had either asthma or wheezing.
Conclusions: We report preliminary evidence for an association between moisture or mould problems in the school building and the presence of manifest and occult asthma in the pupils. Our results show that skin-test positivity to moulds is rare in children. However, reactivity to moisture-indicative moulds seems to be associated with the occurrence of asthma or wheezing.