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Risk factors associated with asthma phenotypes in dental healthcare workers

Authors

  • Tanusha Singh PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, South Africa
    2. Department of Immunology, School of Pathology, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa
    • National Institute for Occupational Health, Immunology & Microbiology Section, P.O. Box 4788, Johannesburg 2000, South Africa.

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  • Braimoh Bello MSc, MSc (Epi),

    1. National Institute for Occupational Health (NIOH), National Health Laboratory Services, Johannesburg, South Africa
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  • Mohamed F. Jeebhay MBChB, MPhil (Epi), MPH, PhD

    1. Centre for Occupational and Environmental Health Research, School of Public Health and Family Medicine, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa
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  • Disclosure Statement: The authors declare no conflict of interest in relation to this project.

Abstract

Background

Exposure in the dental environment can increase the risk of respiratory disease in dental healthcare workers (HCWs). This study investigated the prevalence of asthma phenotypes in dental HCWs and associated risk factors.

Methods

A cross-sectional study of 454 dental HCWs in five dental institutions in South Africa was conducted. A self-administered questionnaire elicited the health and employment history of subjects. Sera was analyzed for atopic status and latex sensitization. Pre- and post-bronchodilator spirometry was performed.

Results

The prevalence of atopic asthma was 6.9%, non-atopic asthma 5.9% and work-exacerbated asthma (WEA) 4.0%. Atopy and work-related ocular-nasal symptoms were strong predictors of WEA (OR: 3.4; 95% CI: 1.07–10.8; OR: 6.7, 95% CI: 2.4–19.1), respectively. Regular use of personal protective equipment (PPE) was associated with a protective affect (OR: 0.23, 95% CI: 0.1–0.7) among non-atopic asthmatics, while glove use and respiratory protection was protective among atopic asthmatics (OR: 0.39, 95% CI: 0.17–0.89).

Conclusion

Identification of risk factors associated with specific asthma phenotypes in dental HCWs can be used to focus preventive strategies for asthmatics. Am. J. Ind. Med. 56:90–99, 2013. © 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

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