Agricultural exposure and asthma risk in the AGRICAN French cohort

Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2014 Apr-May;217(4-5):435-42. doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2013.08.006. Epub 2013 Sep 2.


Epidemiological studies have reported an increased risk of respiratory diseases in agricultural population, but a protective "farm-effect" has also been reported for asthma. In the AGRICAN cohort, self-reported doctor-diagnosed asthma was analyzed according to allergy, in relation with history of life-time exposure to 13 crops and 5 livestock, pesticide exposure and early life on a farm, taking into account sex, age, education and body mass index. Among the 1246 asthmatics (8.0%), 505 were allergic (3.3%) and 719 non-allergic (4.6%). In multivariate analysis, a significant excess was observed, only for allergic asthma, in vine-growing (OR=1.43, p=0.002), fruit-growing (OR=1.58, p=0.001), greenhouses (OR=1.66, p=0.02), grasslands (OR=1.35, p=0.009), beets (OR=1.52, p=0.003) and horses (OR=1.35, p=0.04). Pesticide use and history of pesticide poisoning were significantly associated with allergic asthma in grassland, vineyards and fruit-growing and with non-allergic asthma in beets. Living on a farm in the first year of life tended to be protective for childhood allergic asthma in farms with livestock (OR=0.72, p=0.07) but deleterious in farms with vineyards, fruit or vegetables (OR=1.44, p=0.07). In AGRICAN, an increased risk of allergic asthma was observed with crop exposure, pesticide use and early life on a farm, especially in vine-growing, grassland, beets, fruit and vegetable-growing.

Keywords: Asthma; Epidemiology; Farming; Pesticides; Risk factors.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Agriculture*
  • Animals
  • Animals, Domestic
  • Asthma / epidemiology*
  • Asthma / etiology
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pesticides / toxicity*
  • Risk Assessment


  • Pesticides