Adult-Onset Asthma Linked to Mold
Tobacco Smoke Exposure

WESTPORT, CT (Reuters Health) April 05 - Living in a home with visible mold growth and being exposed to tobacco smoke are among the factors that may increase the risk of adult-onset asthma, Swedish researchers report in the April issue of Allergy

Dr. Jorgen Thorn, of the University of Gothenburg, and colleagues note that in children, environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) and home dampness and mold appear to be risk factors for asthma. However, say the researchers, "there is sparse information on the situation in adults." 

To investigate, they examined data from a random population sample of 15,813 adults between the ages of 20 and 50 years. Of these, 174 who reported physician-diagnosed asthma that began at the age of 16 years or older (cases) were compared with 870 referents randomly selected from the original sample.  

The cases and referents then completed questionnaires covering items including details of the home environment, respiratory symptoms and smoking. 

After controlling for age, smoking and atopy, the researchers found that exposure to mold at home more than doubled the risk of adult-onset asthma (odds ratio 2.2) as did environmental tobacco smoke exposure (odds ratio 2.4). The presence of a wood stove in the home increased the odds ratio for asthma to 1.7. 

In a comment to Reuters Health, Dr. Thorn cautioned that the findings should be interpreted with the perspective of other studies on indoor factors related to asthma. However, he added, "in my opinion, mold and also environmental tobacco smoke exposure at home should be taken into consideration when dealing with asthma patients or discussing asthma risks." 

Reuters Medical News, Allergy 2001;56:287-292.

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