Numerous studies of associations between dampness and respiratory diseases have been conducted, but their implications remain inconclusive. In this study of 13,335 parent-reported questionnaires (response rate: 85.3%), we analyzed associations between home dampness and asthma and related symptoms in 4- to 6-year-old children in a cross-sectional study of Shanghai. Indicators of home dampness were strongly and significantly associated with dry cough, wheeze, and rhinitis symptoms. In the current residence, children with visible mold spots (VMS) exposure had 32% higher risk of asthma (adjusted OR, 95% CI: 1.32, 1.07–1.64); damp clothing and/or bedding (frequently) was strongly associated with dry cough (1.78, 1.37–2.30); condensation on windows was strongly associated with hay fever (1.60, 1.27–2.01). In the early-life residence, VMS or damp stains (frequently) were strongly associated with dry cough (2.20, 1.55–3.11) and rhinitis ever (1.57, 1.11–2.21). Associations between dampness and diseases among children with or without family history of atopy were similar. The total number of dampness indicators had strong dose-response relationships with investigated health outcomes. Actions, including opening windows of the child's room at night and cleaning the child's room frequently, could potentially mitigate 25% of home VMS, thereby preventing more than 1.5% of attributable risk of the studied symptoms.
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