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BMJ Open. 2012 Oct 14;2(5). pii: e001625. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2012-001625. Print 2012.

Childhood adversities and adult-onset asthma: a cohort study.

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1
Department of Psychiatry, University of Turku, and Harjavalta Hospital, Satakunta Hospital District, Finland.

Abstract

OBJECTIVES:

Childhood adversities may be important determinants of later illnesses and poor health behaviour. However, large-scale prospective studies on the associations between childhood adversities and the onset of asthma in adulthood are lacking.

DESIGN:

Prospective cohort study with 7-year follow-up.

SETTING:

Nationally representative study. Data were collected from the Health and Social Support (HeSSup) survey and national registers.

PARTICIPANTS:

The participants represent the Finnish population from the following age groups: 20-24, 30-34, 40-44, and 50-54 years at baseline in 1998 (24 057 survey participants formed the final cohort of this study). The occurrence of childhood adversities was assessed at baseline with a six-item survey scale. The analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, behavioural health risks and common mental disorders.

PRIMARY AND SECONDARY OUTCOMES:

The survey data were linked to data from national health registers on incident asthma during a 7-year follow-up to define new-onset asthma cases with verified diagnoses.

RESULTS:

A total of 12 126 (59%) participants reported that they encountered a childhood adversity. Of them 3677 (18% of all) endured three to six adversities. During a follow-up of 7 years, 593 (2.9%) participants were diagnosed with incident asthma. Those who reported three or more childhood adversities had a 1.6-fold (95% CI 1.31 to 2.01) greater risk of asthma compared to those without childhood adversities. This hazard attenuated but remained statistically significant after adjustment for conventional risk factors (HR 1.33; 95% CI 1.06 to 1.67).

CONCLUSIONS:

Adults who report having encountered adversities in childhood may have an increased risk of developing asthma.

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