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International Journal of Pediatrics
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 427358, 9 pages
Research Article

Few Associations Found between Mold and Other Allergen Concentrations in the Home versus Skin Sensitivity from Children with Asthma after Hurricane Katrina in the Head-Off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana Study

1School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, 1440 Canal Street, Suite 2100 (SL-29), New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
2Rho, Chapel Hill, NC 27517, USA
3Department of Pediatrics, School of Medicine, Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
4Program in Clinical Research, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, Research Triangle Park, 27709, USA
5SRA International Incorporation, Durham, NC 27713, USA
6Visionary Consulting Partners, LLC, Fairfax, VA 22030-3409, USA
7Division of Health Disparities, New Orleans Health Department, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
8Health Sciences Center School of Nursing, Louisiana State University, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA
9National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA

Received 12 July 2012; Revised 11 September 2012; Accepted 19 October 2012

Academic Editor: Mary Jean Brown

Copyright © 2012 L. F. Grimsley et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Mold and other allergen exposures exacerbate asthma symptoms in sensitized individuals. We evaluated allergen concentrations, skin test sensitivities, and asthma morbidity for 182 children, aged 4–12 years, with moderate to severe asthma, enrolled 18 months after Katrina, from the city of New Orleans and the surrounding parishes that were impacted by the storm, into the Head-off Environmental Asthma in Louisiana (HEAL) observational study. Dust (indoor) and air (indoor and outdoor) samples were collected at baseline of 6 and 12 months. Dust samples were evaluated for dust mite, cockroach, mouse, and Alternaria by immunoassay. Air samples were evaluated for airborne mold spore concentrations. Overall, 89% of the children tested positive to ≥1 indoor allergen, with allergen-specific sensitivities ranging from 18% to 67%. Allergen concentration was associated with skin sensitivity for 1 of 10 environmental triggers analyzed (cat). Asthma symptom days did not differ with skin test sensitivity, and surprisingly, increased symptoms were observed in children whose baseline indoor airborne mold concentrations were below median levels. This association was not observed in follow-up assessments. The lack of relationship among allergen levels (including mold), sensitivities, and asthma symptoms points to the complexity of attempting to assess these associations during rapidly changing social and environmental conditions.