Autumn is almost here. And although we mainly associate hay fever with springtime, autumn or fall is actually the season for hay fever, when grass and grains are cut to be turned into straw and hay. Aside from grass pollens, autumn (and also winter) months are peak season for molds (a type of fungus), another major cause of hay fever. According to emedicine:
- Molds are a type of fungus that has no stems, roots, or leaves.
- Mold spores float through the air like pollen until they find a hospitable environment to grow.
- Molds grow both outdoors and indoors.
- Outdoors, they thrive in soil, vegetation, and rotting wood.
- Indoors, molds (usually called mildew) live in places where air does not circulate freely, such as attics and basements, moist places such as bathrooms, and places where foods are stored, prepared, or discarded.
Researchers at the University of California at Berkeley recently published report that babies born during the autumn months which is the high mold season have the a higher likelihood to developing wheezing as early as age 2.
According to lead author Kim Harley, associate director of health effects research at UC Berkeley’s Center for Children’s Environmental Health Research:
“In our study, we took a different tack to understand the link between month of birth and asthma by considering ambient concentrations of fungal spores and pollen, which follow distinct seasonal patterns. Until our paper, there were very little data about exposure to allergens in the air, which we know can trigger symptoms for those who already have asthma. This is the first study to look at the potential role of early life exposure to multiple outdoor fungal and pollen groups in the development of asthma.”
The study results were based on data from 514 children born in Salinas Valley, California, a region with mild, rainy winters and dry summers. In this area, mold spore levels peak in November and December, whereas pollen levels peak in the early spring months of March and April.
When comparing babies born in the autumn and winter months compared to those born at other times of the year, the researchers found these babies have 3 times the likelihood of wheezing 24 months after birth.
But it is not only the mildew at home that is releasing spores to cause wheezing. The mushrooms are part of it, too. The researchers found 2 types of fungal spores which are especially bothersome at this time of the year – basidiospores and ascospores – which are released by mushrooms, molds, and rusts on plants.
However, the researchers are quick to say that there are other factors involved, including genetics in the development of wheezing, which is a precursor to asthma.