The cohort of young Danish farmers – A longitudinal study of the health effects of farming exposure
Grethe Elholm1,2, Øyvind Omland1,2, Vivi Schlünssen1, Charlotte Hjort3, Ioannis Basinas1, Torben Sigsgaard1
1Department of Environmental and Occupational Medicine, Institute of Public Health, Aarhus University; 2Department of Occupational Health, Aalborg Hospital, Aarhus University Hospital; 3Regional Hospital Viborg, Skive, Kjellerup
Abstract: Working in agriculture poses a serious risk for development of respiratory diseases, especially when working in animal housing. Animal workers are exposed to a mixture of organic and inorganic dust together with fumes and gases, including allergens and microbial-associated molecular patterns with a potentially major impact on respiratory health and the immune system. Exposure to microbial agents in animal housing is associated with an increased prevalence of respiratory symptoms, including bronchial hyperresponsiveness, accelerated lung function decline, and neutrophil-mediated inflammation. These clinical findings are often seen without IgE-mediated sensitization. In fact it has been found in recent studies that the prevalence of atopic sensitization and atopic asthma is low among farmers compared with other populations. The SUS study was designed to identify the type and occurrence of respiratory symptoms and disease, and to investigate risk factors for respiratory disorders and changes in lung function among young farming students. The cohort of young Danish farmers was established in 1992/1994 and followed up in 2007/2008 with a participation rate of 51.7%. The cohort consists of 1734 male farming students, 230 female farming students, and 407 army recruits as controls.
Keywords: respiratory health, atopy, asthma, rhinitis, lung function, farming environment, occupational exposure, cohort study
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