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J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2011 Oct;128(4):774-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2011.06.046. Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Rising prevalence of asthma is sex-specific in a US farming population.

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1
Department of Medicine, Section of Pulmonary and Critical Care, The University of Chicago, Chicago, IL 60637, USA. caroline.motika@uchospitals.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Asthma prevalence is increasing worldwide in most populations, likely due to a combination of heritable factors and environmental changes. Curiously, however, some European farming populations are protected from asthma, which has been attributed to their traditional lifestyles and farming practices.

OBJECTIVE:

We conducted population-based studies of asthma and atopy in the Hutterites of South Dakota, a communal farming population, to assess temporal trends in asthma and atopy prevalence and describe the risk factors for asthma.

METHODS:

We studied 1325 Hutterites (ages 6-91 years) at 2 time points from 1996 to 1997 and from 2006 to 2009 by using asthma questionnaires, pulmonary function and methacholine bronchoprovocation tests, and measures of atopy.

RESULTS:

The overall prevalence of asthma increased over the 10- to 13-year study period (7.5%-11.1%, P = .049), whereas the overall prevalence of atopy did not change (45.0%-44.8%, P = .95). Surprisingly, the rise in asthma was only among females (5.8%-11.2%, P = .02); the prevalence among males remained largely unchanged (9.4%-10.9%, P = .57). Atopy, which was not associated with asthma risk in 1996 to 1997, was the strongest risk factor for asthma among Hutterites studied in 2006 to 2009 (P = .003).

CONCLUSIONS:

Asthma has increased over a 10- to 13-year period among Hutterite females and atopy has become a significant risk factor for asthma, suggesting a change in environmental exposures that are either sex limited or that elicit a sex-specific response.

Comment in

PMID:
21840584
PMCID:
PMC3401412
DOI:
10.1016/j.jaci.2011.06.046
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
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