Exposure to residential mold and dampness and the associations with respiratory tract infections and symptoms thereof in children in high income countries: A systematic review and meta-analyses of epidemiological studies

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Background: Multiple reviews have been conducted on the associations between residential mold and dampness and respiratory outcomes in children, with few specifically investigating respiratory tract infections (RTIs). Objective: We aimed to review and synthesize the available epidemiological literature on mold and dampness and risk of RTIs and respiratory symptoms compatible with RTIs in children living in high-income countries. Method: We performed a systematic search of literature available from MEDLINE, Embase, and Web of Science for observational studies. We conducted meta-analyses using two-level random effects (RE) and multi-level random effects (ML) models for contrasts of three exposure and three outcome categories, including multiple estimates reported by single studies. We report central estimates for pooled odds ratios (OR) and 95 % confidence intervals (CI).We conducted a risk of bias assessment using the Joanna Briggs Initiative (JBI) checklists for cross-sectional, case-control, and cohort studies. We additionally report on cumulative meta-analyses, leave-one-out analyses of single estimates, subgroup analyses by study quality and study design and inclusion of all effect estimates. Results: Of the 932 studies initially screened by title and abstract, we included 30 studies with 267 effect estimates that met the inclusion criteria. Most were cross-sectional (n = 22), with fewer cohort (n = 5) and case-control (n = 3) studies. Most of the studies were according to the bias assessment of poor or fair quality (n = 24). The main meta-analyses generally provided similar results regardless of statistical model and central estimates ranged from OR 1.28 (95 % CI; 1.08, 1.53) for dampness and RTIs to OR 1.76 (95 % CI; 1.64, 1.88) for mold and respiratory symptoms. Most analyses were of moderate heterogeneity. Funnel plots did not indicate strong publication bias. Conclusion: Our results are compatible with a weak to moderate effect of residential mold and or dampness on risk of RTIs in children in high-income countries. However, these results are based primarily on cross-sectional studies.

Original languageEnglish
JournalPaediatric Respiratory Reviews
Pages (from-to)47-64
Number of pages18
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023

    Research areas

  • Built environment, Children, Environmental epidemiology, Home, Indoor dampness, Indoor mold, Residential, Respiratory tract infections

ID: 381457469