October 12, 2015
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Farm exposure impacts development of asthma, hay fever

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Women who lived on a farm during their first year of life demonstrated a reduced risk for asthma and hay fever as adults, according to study results.

Researchers did not observe that association among men.

“Farm residency in the first year of life shows a protective effect for adult asthma and hay fever that appears to differ by sex,” Donna C. Rennie, PhD, of the Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture at University of Saskatchewan in Canada, and colleagues wrote.

Rennie and colleagues surveyed 7,148 adults who lived in a rural area about their history of asthma and history of hay fever. The questionnaire also asked participants to report their farm residency history by identifying themselves as one of five farm residency categories: first year of life only, currently living on a farm, both first year of life and currently living on a farm, other farm living, and no farm living.

The researchers found that 30.6% of study participants had lived on a farm during their first year of life, 34.4% of participants reported both early-in-life and current farm residency, and 17.4% of participants had never lived on a farm.

Overall, 8.6% of study participants had asthma and 12.3% had hay fever. Prevalence was higher among women.

Results showed women with early-in-life farm residency demonstrated a reduced risk for asthma (adjusted OR = 0.67; 95% CI, 0.47-0.96) and hay fever (adjusted OR = 0.6; 95% CI, 0.44-0.83). However, men who reported currently living on a farm demonstrated an increased risk for asthma (OR = 1.82, 95% CI, 1.02-3.24). – by Jeff Craven

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.