Mold can cause a number of different health issues, especially for the elderly, young children, and those who already have respiratory problems. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of research done on the topic of how mold can affect a pregnancy and an unborn child. There has been research on animals that shows a heightened risk of birth defects if animals have eaten fold with mold, but nothing has been determined about the risk of airborne mold exposure.
There have been women who, during pregnancy, were exposed to mold and had a child with birth defects or a miscarriage. However, there is no research to back up these claims. For many miscarriages, the factor is not external and is instead linked to genetics.
What Is Mold?
Mold is a fungus, and it is found both outdoors and indoors. It grows in damp, warm, and humid places. It spreads by making spores that are able to live in almost any place. Mold can be many different colors and may have an earthy or musty smell. While mold is good for the environment, it is harmful to humans. Out of all the different types of molds, black mold, called Stachybotrys Chartarum, is the most dangerous for exposure, whether you are pregnant or not.
Can Mold Make You Sick While Pregnant?
Mold can make anyone sick, regardless of preexisting conditions, such as pregnancy, sex, or age. Prolonged exposure to mold spores can cause long-term allergic reactions and many different symptoms can occur. It can affect the skin, eyes, lungs, and respiratory pathways. Anything that will hinder your own intake of oxygen while you are pregnant also indirectly affects the baby. Not everyone has the same reaction to mold. Those who have a weakened immune system or a chronic respiratory condition, such as asthma, can be more sensitive to mold.
How Can Mold Affect Your Baby While Pregnant?
Across the whole population, there is a 3% to 5% chance of having a birth defect in every pregnancy. Since studies on mold impact during pregnancy are rare, there, unfortunately, is no proven risk to pregnancy from exposure to airborne mold. Not much research can actually be done on pregnancy and mold exposure since few women would be willing to risk the health of their child, along with their own health, to participate in such a study. The toxins from black mold are teratogenic. Teratogens can cause birth defects. About 5% of birth defects can be caused by harmful teratogens, including those from black mold.
Possible Birth Defects Caused by Mold
Mold, especially black mold, is known to affect the respiratory system. This is harmful to the mother, as well as the unborn child. This can cause a child to be born with respiratory problems or asthma. While these might not necessarily be considered birth defects, respiratory problems in a newborn can be linked to sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). A fetus exposed to black mold may also have developmental delays. It’s even possible that mold exposure during pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage.
Mold Exposure Symptoms
The mother’s allergies to black mold can affect a fetus. This includes problems with the respiratory system and brain damage. When less oxygen is delivered to the mother, less oxygen is delivered to the fetus and this is cause for concern since oxygen is necessary for optimum respiratory and brain functions. There are a number of ways that mold can impact your health. It releases spores that can cause immune system degeneration, skin irritation, pulmonary decay, and neurological breakdown. It can even cause death. The spores that are released by black mold attach to the brain’s neurons to affect your mental ability. The reaction to black mold can include neurological shifts, such as mood swings or tremors. If you are exposed to black mold for long enough, it can shut down the organs, break down the immune system, and cause brain damage. Some other symptoms include headaches, seizures, tremors, confusion, eye irritation, coughing, bleeding of the lungs, rashes, and sneezing.
Long-Term Effects of Mold Exposure
When there is mold in the home, there are short-term and long-term effects for infants and toddlers. Exposure to mold indoors for infants can be associated with sinus and nasal congestion, sore throat, chest tightness, difficulty breathing, asthma, nosebleed, eye and skin irritation, headache, and upper respiratory tract infection. Long-term exposure for infants can also lead to other severe symptoms, including pulmonary injury, neurotoxicity, and cancer.
If you find there is black mold in your home while you are pregnant, you will need to contact a mold removal specialist. It will be much safer to have someone who is specialized in mold removal to remove it instead of you handling it yourself. A licensed specialist has the right experience, equipment, and knowledge to remove the substance from the air that you and your baby are breathing.
If you were exposed to mold while you were pregnant and your child was born with a birth defect, you may want to find out if you have a legal case. A birth injury lawyer may be able to help.