Indoor fungal diversity in primary schools may differently influence allergic sensitization and asthma in children

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Exposure to indoor air microbiologic agents during childhood has been shown to influence the development of allergic diseases 1. While there is evidence that excessive exposure to indoor air bacteria or fungi concentrations may induce the development of allergy and asthma 2, a large number of recent studies also suggest that exposure to certain microorganisms in the early years of life may have a protective effect in children, reducing the risk of allergy and asthma onset by promoting the maturation of Th1 lymphocytes, thus decreasing the incidence of Th2‐oriented immunity (hygiene hypothesis) 5. There is published evidence supporting the general concept that a low diversity of the human microbiome during infancy is associated with the long‐term development of lifestyle‐dependent immune disease manifestations, such as atopic disease 10.
Apart from home, young children spend a large section of their daytime at school, mostly within their classrooms, which might be reflected as a long‐term exposure to indoor air microbes 5. If the human microbiome does change according to environmental exposure, the classroom environment might contribute to microbiome changes and, consequently, either induce the development and/or exacerbation of allergy and asthma or, on the other hand, have a protective effect against their onset.
Therefore, the aim of this cross‐sectional study was to observe how the prevalence of allergic sensitization and asthma in schoolchildren is influenced by the exposure to indoor air bacteria and fungi in classrooms. More specifically, this work aimed to (i) quantify the concentration of microbiologic parameters in the indoor air of primary school classrooms; and (ii) investigate how microbial concentrations and diversity may influence the risk of asthma and allergy in primary school children.

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