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Occup Environ Med. 2005 Sep;62(9):607-11.

Effect of farming environment on sensitisation to allergens continues after childhood.

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  • 1Department of Respiratory Medicine, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland.



The farming environment in childhood has been reported to decrease the risk of sensitisation to allergens. The purpose of the present study was to explore whether later exposure to a farming environment also could affect this sensitisation.


A population based sample of 202 women who did not live on a farm and 231 who did. The subjects filled in a questionnaire and underwent skin prick tests for several common and farming related allergens.


The prevalence of sensitisation to any of the allergens was similar in the two groups (37.1 v 34.6% (p = NS). However, compared with women who did not live on a farm, the women who lived on a dairy farm showed a low prevalence of sensitisation to pollens (4.4 v 17.3%, p = 0.01) and cats (3.5 v 10.4%, p = 0.047). The risk of sensitisation to pollens and pets was lowest among women with both a childhood and adulthood farming environment and was dose dependently associated with current contact with farm animals. However, this contact increased the risk of sensitisation to bovine dander.


The farming environment may reduce sensitisation to common allergens also after early childhood. However, it may also increase sensitisation to farm allergens.

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