Many skeptics challenge functional MD’s like myself when we diagnose mold toxicity as the explanation for a chronic illness whether in adults or in children. The refrain goes like this: “Mold is everywhere! How could that explain the symptoms?” We understand that patients or their parents desire proof and certainty before embarking on a treatment journey. We do our best of offer both the stories of our clinical experience with hundreds of others and the support of scientific literature. In this study, researchers found that mold exposure lowered IQ by 10 points and tripled the risk of a low IQ score.
This focus study comes out of a Polish survey of babies in 2011. Researchers posed the question whether or not mold and mycotoxin exposure in water damaged homes might affect the IQ of children between age zero and six. With a simple study design, they followed 277 babies for 6 years who were born to otherwise healthy women and did not smoke. Through surveys assessing visible water damage in the homes and IQ testing for the children they separated mold exposed from non-mold exposed children for comparison.
Out of the 277, 210 had no reported exposure to mold. Of the remaining babies, 52 reported only short exposures (under 2 years) and 15 reported exposures for over 2 years. Compared to other children, these 15 infants who grew into 6 year olds demonstrated lower IQ scores by an average of 10 points and were 3 times more likely to be in the lower IQ range. While mom’s education and breastfeeding did boost scores a bit, this exposure to mold and therefore its toxins showed a statistically significant connection. (Being statistically significant means that the chances of these results occurring by random chance are very small and unlikely. This likely demonstrates a true connection.)
The article offered inflammation as a potential explanatory mechanism connecting the toxins to the lower IQ outcome. They pointed to papers by Panasevich et al and Dantzer et al for support of this hypothesis, but their own study did not experimentally explore the mechanisms. Obviously, the focus article’s authors urge more study both to confirm and to understand the connections.
As we continue to care for both children and adults affected by mold toxins at our clinic, we also continue to offer scientific support for our approach. Helping our patients to live healthier more abundant lives includes helping them understand and trust our therapies. Patients and parents who understand their illness and their therapies have a better chance of overcoming their illness and maintaining their health.
Other Related Articles by Dr. Potter
Mold Hurts Brains
Not Everyone Believes in Mold
Jedrychowski, Wieslaw et al. “Cognitive function of 6-year old children exposed to mold-contaminated homes in early postnatal period. Prospective birth cohort study in Poland.” Physiology & behavior vol. 104,5 (2011): 989-95. doi:10.1016/j.physbeh.2011.06.019
Other studies mentioned:
Panasevich S, Leander K, Rosenlund M, et al. Associations of long- and short-term air pollution exposure with markers of inflammation and coagulation in a population sample. Occup Environ Med. 2009;66:747–753.
Dantzer R, O’Connor JC, Freund GG, et al. From inflammation to sickness and depression: when the immune system subjugates the brain. Nat Rev Neurosci. 2008;9:46–56.
Other supporting studies:
Hyvonen, Saija M et al. “Association of toxic indoor air with multi-organ symptoms in pupils attending a moisture-damaged school in Finland.” American journal of clinical and experimental immunology vol. 9,5 101-113. 15 Dec. 2020
Casas, Lidia et al. “Early life home microbiome and hyperactivity/inattention in school-age children.” Scientific reports vol. 9,1 17355. 22 Nov. 2019, doi:10.1038/s41598-019-53527-1
Midouhas, Emily et al. “The quality of air outside and inside the home: associations with emotional and behavioural problem scores in early childhood.” BMC public health vol. 19,1 406. 15 Apr. 2019, doi:10.1186/s12889-019-6733-1
Gonzalez-Casanova, Ines et al. “Prenatal exposure to environmental pollutants and child development trajectories through 7 years.” International journal of hygiene and environmental health vol. 221,4 (2018): 616-622. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.04.004
Sanctuary Functional Medicine, under the direction of Dr Eric Potter, IFMCP MD, provides functional medicine services to Nashville, Middle Tennessee and beyond. We frequently treat patients from Kentucky, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Ohio, Indiana, and more... offering the hope of healthier more abundant lives to those with chronic illness.