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Free Content High risk of adult-onset asthma and work-related wheeze in farmers despite low prevalence of asthma in young farmers

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OBJECTIVE: To investigate risk factors for asthma in farmers.

METHODS: A questionnaire was sent to all farms (n = 2499) and to 2900 controls aged 19–65 years from the general population in the county of Uppsala. Sixty per cent of the farms (1514 men and 248 women) and 64% of the controls (900 men, 943 women) responded.

RESULTS: Only 13% of the male farmers had heredity for allergy compared to 24% of the controls, and fewer farmers were smokers. After adjusting for confounders, male farmers had a significantly lower prevalence of doctor-diagnosed asthma and nocturnal breathlessness than the controls (OR 0.75, 95%CI 0.57–0.98 and OR 0.61, 95%CI 0.44–0.84), but a significantly higher prevalence of work-related wheeze (OR 1.74, 95%CI 1.30–2.35). The risk for asthma increased with age in the farmers. Of male farmers with asthma, 70% had developed asthma after the age of 21, in contrast with only 30% of the asthmatic controls. The young female farmers had a high prevalence of asthma.

CONCLUSION: Male farmers have an increased risk of work-related wheeze and adult-onset asthma increasing with age despite a lower prevalence of asthma during childhood and young age than in the general population.

Keywords: agriculture; farm women; occupational asthma; occupational diseases; occupational exposure; work-related wheeze

Document Type: Regular Paper

Affiliations: 1: Department of Medical Sciences, Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden 2: Department of Medical Sciences, Respiratory Medicine and Allergology, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2004

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  • The International Journal of Tuberculosis and Lung Disease publishes articles on all aspects of lung health, including public health-related issues such as training programmes, cost-benefit analysis, legislation, epidemiology, intervention studies and health systems research. The IJTLD is dedicated to the continuing education of physicians and health personnel and the dissemination of information on tuberculosis and lung health world-wide.

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