Molds commonly found in daycares may increase kids' risk of asthma and allergies

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Experts are worried about children’s long-term respiratory health

A new study conducted by researchers from the American Society for Microbiology explored one risk that kids who attend daycare may be taking on. Their findings showed that many daycares carry common molds and yeasts that can increase the risk of children developing allergies and asthma

“This information is important to understand the alarming increase in chronic diseases like asthma and allergies in children,” said researcher Eva Lena Estensmo, Ph.D. “Fungal growth can lead to poor indoor air quality, and some fungi are associated with allergic reactions and respiratory systems that may lead to chronic respiratory diseases.” 

Daycares may pose a respiratory risk

The researchers collected data from 125 daycare centers in Norway to better understand how mold and yeast can affect kids’ allergy and asthma risk. The team collected indoor and outdoor samples at each facility and took several factors into account, including the type of ventilation, the facility's history of mold, how many children are in each building, the building material, and the building type. 

The researchers learned that mold and yeast was a significant issue indoors at many of the daycare centers; however, the team didn’t detect the same level of fungi in the outdoor areas at these buildings. They say the high mold and yeast composition that they found can have a significant impact on respiratory health, as the kids were more likely to develop allergies and asthma when they were exposed to the fungi. 

“Especially the high diversity of yeasts came as a surprise,” said Dr. Estensmo. “Many might be associated with the human body. We don’t fully know whether the yeasts are especially associated with children, but we have some indications – working in progress – that far more yeasts are present in daycares than in other indoor environments.” 

The team's work also showed that the number of kids present in each daycare center impacted the presence of molds and yeasts. The humidity and average temperature mostly affected the fungi composition in the daycares. 

The researchers believe daycare centers may actually contain higher levels of mold and yeast than homes. They also note that kids may actually play an important role in the molds and yeasts found indoors at these places. 

“Since young children often bring in organic materials such as soil and litter from nature, daycare centers may accumulate extra organic substrates promoting fungal growth, compared to other indoor environments,” the researchers wrote

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