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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.
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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: 2004-11-01

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