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Eur Respir J. 2012 Jan;39(1):67-75. doi: 10.1183/09031936.00115010. Epub 2011 Jun 9.

Farming in childhood, diet in adulthood and asthma history.

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Inserm CESP/U1018, Respiratory and Environmental Epidemiology Team, 16 avenue Paul Vaillant Couturier, 94 807 Villejuif Cedex, France.


The decrease in the number of children living on traditional farms in France during early childhood and changes in diet could both play a role in the increase in asthma prevalence over the last decades. This study aimed to assess 1) the association of farming lifestyle in childhood and asthma, and 2) whether diet in adulthood modifies the association between farming lifestyle in childhood and adult-onset asthma. In the French Etude Epidemiologique des Femmes de la Mutuelle Générale de l'Education Nationale (E3N) study (54,018 females; age 43-68 yrs), three indicators of farming lifestyle were defined: one using individual data (having farmer parents) and two using ecological data (born in a rural area and exposure to cattle). All farming lifestyle indicators were related to childhood- (<16 yrs) and adult-onset asthma (OR (95% CI) values for farmer parents were 0.54 (0.42-0.70) and 0.72 (0.62-0.84), respectively), and to diet in adulthood, in particular to high fruit and low wine intakes. The association between farmer parents and adult-onset asthma was not modified by diet in adulthood. Results extend previous observations in younger cohorts on the protective role of contact with livestock and farming lifestyle on asthma, in particular during childhood.

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