08/18/2011 01:24 pm ET Updated Oct 18, 2011

Health Risks of Mold: One Mama Bear's Concerns

I never thought much about mold, until my first child was born. We came home from the hospital and discovered greenish black mold covered the wall behind the family bed. With a 3-day-old baby in my arms, I wasn't wasting time with testing. My husband and I called the landlord, told him he could keep the security deposit, and we moved in with my father that night.

Of course, a brush with mold doesn't always trigger such rash action. Once I came out of my post-partum, mama-bear phase, I felt a little sheepish about giving up our beautiful little cottage -- and our security deposit.

But recent news seems to have justified that decision we made 12 years ago. New data from the Cincinnati Childhood Allergy and Air Pollution Study published in the Annals of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology found that exposure to household mold in infancy greatly increases a child's risk of developing asthma. Researchers found that children who lived in homes with mold during infancy were three times more likely to develop asthma by age seven than those who weren't exposed, according to a story in U.S. News and World Report.

In related news, last week's high mold warning for the Midwest, as reported by UPI, shouldn't be taken lightly by new and expectant parents, or by parents with children in schools that have been affected by mold. In areas such as Chicago, the mold count is at toxic levels due to rain and flooding over the summer.

In general, I think that Healthy Child Healthy World's 5 Easy Steps can be a helpful guide in promoting healthier air quality in your home. Concerned individuals can also purchase a hygrometer, which measures indoor humidity that can lead to mold, at a hardware store.

If you suspect you have mold, both the Environmental Protection Agency and the Centers for Disease Control provide helpful information. The Better Business Bureau recommends controlling mold by fixing plumbing leaks as soon as they appear, venting damp areas such as bathrooms and kitchens, contacting a qualified contractor and wearing gloves -- I've also read a ventilator mask -- when handling it.

Finally, I'm not recommending that anyone move, but if you're in mama-bear mode, you might want to take the opportunity for a short vacation during clean up.