SEARCH

SEARCH BY CITATION

Keywords:

  • livestock farming;
  • asthma;
  • allergies;
  • dermatitis;
  • Th2;
  • hygiene hypothesis;
  • epidemiology;
  • cross-sectional study;
  • endotoxins;
  • farmer

Abstract

Background

Several studies reported protective effects of farming environments against atopic diseases. Therefore, we aimed to establish the relevant timing of exposure in early life.

Methods

A cross-sectional study was carried out in a rural town. Overall, 4,537 inhabitants aged 18–44 years were eligible. Of these, 3,112 (69%) responded to a postal questionnaire on atopic diseases, life-time exposure to farming environments, and potential confounders.

Results

Those with regular childhood exposure to animal buildings had a significantly reduced risk of nasal allergies. The greatest reduction in risk was seen for respondents starting regular visits to animal stables during the 1st year of life or between ages 3 and 5. Participants reporting start of exposure after age 5 remained at a lower risk for nasal allergies (0.70, 0.49–1.01).

Conclusions

The preventive effect of animal buildings' exposure against atopic respiratory diseases continues into adulthood. The magnitude of the effect appears to be age-dependent. Am. J. Ind. Med. 46:349–356, 2004. © 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.