The Connection Between Pulmonary Hemorrhage in Infants and Mold Exposure: Case Study
Of the many concerns surrounding mold exposure and health, few are more concerning than the risk for pulmonary hemorrhage in infants. As research reveals, mold exposure can greatly increase the risk for pulmonary hemorrhage and other respiratory illnesses in infants, making mold treatment a top priority in households where mold is discovered.
What Is Pulmonary Hemorrhage?
Pulmonary hemorrhage is a serious condition in which an individual experiences bleeding from the lungs. This is a potentially life-threatening condition with a high mortality rate because of the extreme blood loss that can occur. This condition is often linked to other health conditions such as tuberculosis, lung cancer, and pneumonia.
The risk for pulmonary hemorrhage has been found to be 10 times higher for preterm infants. Other known risk factors include maternal asthma, male gender, low birth weight, and C-section without labor.
Can Mold Cause Pulmonary Hemorrhage in Infants?
Because their lungs are still developing, infants are at greater risk of developing pulmonary hemorrhage and other severe respiratory conditions when exposed to harmful substances. Studies have found that when infants are exposed to tobacco smoke or indoor fungus growth, they may experience “unexplained” pulmonary hemorrhage not linked to other factors. Even infants who don't have typical risk factors for pulmonary hemorrhage (such as preterm birth) are vulnerable when mold exposure occurs.
While the Stachybotrys atra fungus has been most closely linked to pulmonary hemorrhage in infants, other fungi that produce mycotoxins, such as Penicillium and Trichoderma can also cause pulmonary hemorrhage.
Generally speaking, these harmful mold exposures are most likely to occur in water-damaged environments where mold treatment did not take place.
Symptoms of Mold-Induced Pulmonary Hemorrhage in Infants
Pulmonary hemorrhage in infants can become a life-threatening condition, but due to the nature of mold spore exposure, symptoms may occur gradually.
Some of the most common symptoms of pulmonary hemorrhage in infants include fever, cough, unexplained weight loss, and being easily fatigued or getting out of breath during physical activity. As children and infants become anemic due to ongoing blood loss, their skin may become more pale than normal.
As the condition gets more severe (or in instances where there is sudden onset of severe pulmonary hemorrhage), infants or children could struggle to breathe. Blood may be visible in the nose or on the face. They may cough up blood that looks frothy and bright red. If this occurs, parents should call 911 to get emergency medical care.
In this case, promptly treating pulmonary hemorrhage can literally be a life or death action.
Case Study: The Link Between Pulmonary Hemorrhage and Mold Exposure in Infants
One of the most comprehensive studies on the link between pulmonary hemorrhage and mold exposure in infants evaluated 30 infants who were hospitalized with the condition at a hospital in Cleveland, Ohio. Researchers sought to determine why the children were hospitalized with the condition, and what factors led to a particular area of Cleveland having so many cases.
Background of the Case Study
As the study notes, “Most infants presented with severe pulmonary symptoms requiring intensive support, but a few infants had less severe hemorrhage. Three quarters of the patients required ventilator support and blood transfusions. Eleven patients had transitory hemoglobinuria. Five patients died, but infants who survived did well.”
It didn't take long to discover that the majority of these cases occurred in a contiguous area in the eastern part of the Cleveland metro area. Researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) decided to investigate the homes where the infants experienced pulmonary hemorrhage to determine the causes.
To understand the scope of the problem, the CDC sent out 240-question questionnaires to each household. The homes where the incidences of pulmonary hemorrhage occurred were then tested for pesticide exposure and other harmful chemicals. Environmental surveillance of the properties soon revealed that many of these homes had a much higher prevalence of water damage when compared to “control homes” that had not experienced incidences of pulmonary hemorrhage.
As researchers looked into the water damage further, it was noted that a variety of nonspeciated toxigenic mold were particularly abundant. The vast majority of homes linked with the cases of pulmonary hemorrhage tested positive for these toxic fungi.
With this information in hand, researchers dove deeper into why mold exposure (and cases of infant pulmonary hemorrhage) were more common in this part of Cleveland.
It was ultimately determined that many of the properties in the area were naturally vulnerable to mold growth. Most of the homes were made of wood frames (which can support mold growth), and well over 60 years old.
Most problematic, though, was the finding that basements in the area would often get flooded during heavy rainstorms. Not only was the flooding a potential cause for mold growth in and of itself, but the forced air heating used in many of the properties had the potential to circulate mold spores throughout the entire house - including infant bedrooms.
Based on its findings, the CDC determined that there was “an association with household exposure to a toxigenic mold, Stachybotrys chartarum, and other fungi. The rapidly growing lungs of young infants appear to be especially vulnerable to the toxins made by toxigenic molds. Environmental tobacco smoke was frequently present in the infants' homes and may be a trigger precipitating the acute bleeding.”
Their findings showed that the home environment could have a significant impact on an infant's risk for mold exposure, primarily when water damage is not properly addressed.
Researchers ultimately concluded that flooding and other water damage should be cleaned up immediately, and that mold-damaged materials should be removed from a house before it can be considered safe for infants.
Preventive Measures: Reducing Mold Exposure for Infant Safety
Some basic practices can help prevent mold growth in your home and keep your little ones safe. Do the following to keep your home mold-free:
- Keep indoor humidity levels below 50% (check this with a humidity level meter)
- Use exhaust fans to vent humid air out of the bathrooms and kitchen
- When re-painting, add mold inhibitors to your paint
- Fix plumbing and roof leaks promptly to avoid creating a moist environment
- Clean roof gutters to prevent leaks
- Make sure the ground around your house slopes away from the foundation
- Use anti-mold cleaning products in the bathrooms and kitchen
- Use hardwood floors instead of carpets in high-moisture areas like bathrooms or the laundry room
- When flooding or leaks occur, begin cleanup and drying within 24 hours
Why Choose Us for Mold Treatment?
Mold treatment and mold removal aren't tasks that you should attempt on your own.
First, mold removal can actually be dangerous. Without proper safety equipment, you could inhale mold spores during cleaning. If you don't seal off the area, mold spores could spread from the area where you are cleaning and settle on items throughout the house - essentially spreading the mold even further.
Quite often, homeowners fail to completely remove the mold, or they might not fix the problem that caused the mold growth in the first place. For example, if mold frequently grows in your bathroom because of poor ventilation, it will continue to come back until you fix the ventilation issue.
When you work with Mold Act, these challenges won't be a problem. Our team uses professional equipment to seal off the area during mold treatment. We treat and clean the affected area, control humidity, and help you identify how to prevent future mold growth. Most importantly, a thorough assessment means we'll identify and remove mold that you might not find if you tried to clean everything yourself.
Contact Mold Act Today
Infants and respiratory illnesses don't mix. Mold exposure can easily lead to pulmonary hemorrhage and other significant harmful consequences for infants. It's not worth the risk. If your home experiences flooding or other types of water or moisture buildup that could lead to mold growth, contact Mold Act immediately.
Our certified mold remediation and treatment services will provide a rapid response to fully eliminate indoor mold and prevent future outbreaks so you can keep your family safe.
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