This Thanksgiving, my mom had the whole family over for a feast. We all spent the day in her dining room and living room chatting and eating for hours at a time. About a week later, my mom found out that her roof had sprung a leak during Hurricane Sandy, and there was mold growing in the attic. Though upset about the inevitable costs of renovations, she didn’t think anything of it at first. However, she later realized that my pregnant Aunt had been over on Thanksgiving Day, and she called her in a panic. Luckily, my aunt checked with her doctor and found out that mold from dampness in homes is harmless to a developing fetus. However, I was surprised, considering mold can be extremely dangerous for adults. After some research I discovered why a fetus’ exposure to mold is nothing to be concerned about.

Airborne mold spores are dangerous to humans because they can cause serious damage to the alveoli in your respiratory tract and lungs. Mold can cause infections, irritation of the respiratory tissues, and it can even bring on allergic reactions. Certain molds, though usually not the ones caused by a temporarily damp attic, can even bring on serious and chronic respiratory diseases. While this all sounds like it could be damaging to a delicate fetus, it’s not at all when you think about the nature of a fetus’ air supply. Since a fetus doesn’t “breathe” in the same way that we do, it is completely untouched by harmful mold spores while in the womb. Therefore, you might see side effects if you come into contact with large amounts of mold during your pregnancy, but your fetus will be unaffected. However, studies show that children exposed to mold spores in their first few years of life can develop serious respiratory problems so it’s important that you make sure your home is mold-free by the time baby is born.

Of course, you shouldn’t purposely breathe in any mold during your pregnancy because it could cause serious health problems to your own body. However, if you’ve unintentionally breathed some in, the health of your developing baby will be uncompromised. Staying healthy during your pregnancy can seem difficult sometimes, but airborne irritants are only a problem when they affect the processes in your own reproductive system as they relates to the health and nutrition of your delicate, growing baby.

Source: Anne Karvonen et al: Confirmed Moisture Damage at Home, Respiratory Symptoms and Atopy in Early Life. Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics Volume 124 Issue 2 pp. 329-338 August 2009

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