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Cats, Cockroaches, Dampness, Fungi Linked to Asthma

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Airborne fungi are increasingly being seen as a risk factor for asthma and now, new research indicates that high levels of such fungi are found in inner city homes with cats, cockroaches, and dampness problems.

The findings, which appear in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, are based on an evaluation of the homes of 414 mold-sensitive children with asthma. The subjects were drawn from seven urban communities in the US.

The fungi seen indoors were usually the same type as that found outdoors, lead author Dr. George T. O'Connor, from Boston University, and colleagues note. The most common species found outdoors and indoors was Cladosporium, followed by Penicillium and Aspergillus.

The strongest predictor of high indoor fungi levels, compared with outdoor levels, was having a cat live in the home within the last six months. Evidence of cockroaches in the child's bedroom was linked with high levels of Aspergillus, whereas dampness in the bedroom was tied to high levels of Cladosporium.

"The indoor-outdoor difference in fungal concentrations was significantly related to several home characteristics linked to dampness," the researchers conclude. This information may prove valuable for future investigations into the role of fungal exposure as an asthma risk factor, they add.

SOURCE: Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, September 2004.

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