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

Int J Tuberc Lung Dis. 2004 Nov;8(11):1285-91.


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.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Agricultural Workers' Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Respiratory Sounds / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Sweden
  • Young Adult