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Int J Epidemiol. 2017 Feb 1;46(1):235-245. doi: 10.1093/ije/dyw151.

Father's environment before conception and asthma risk in his children: a multi-generation analysis of the Respiratory Health In Northern Europe study.

Author information

1
Centre for International Health, University of Bergen, Norway.
2
Department of Occupational Medicine, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
3
Department of Clinical Science, University of Bergen, Norway.
4
School of Population and Global Health, University of Melbourne, Australia.
5
Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Melbourne, Australia.
6
Department of Obstetrics, Oslo University Hospital, Rikshospitalet, Oslo, Norway.
7
Centre for Clinical Research, Haukeland University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
8
Department of Allergy, Respiratory Medicine and Sleep, Landspitali University Hospital, Reykjavik, Iceland.
9
University of Iceland, Medical Faculty.
10
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine, Umeå University, Sweden.
11
Centre for Research in Environmental Epidemiology (CREAL), Barcelona, Spain.
12
Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Gender & Health, Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute, Basel University, Switzerland.
13
Institute of Epidemiology I, Helmholtz Zentrum, Munich, Germany.
14
Occupational and Environmental Medicine, Sahlgrenska Academy, University of Gothenburg, Sweden.
15
Department of Medical Sciences, Uppsala University, Sweden.
16
Faculty of Medicine, National Heart & Lung Institute, Imperial College, London, UK.
17
Lung Clinic, Foundation Tartu University Clinics, Tartu, Estonia.
18
Department of Pulmonary Medicine, Tartu University, Estonia.
19
Research Center Borstel, Leibniz-Center for Medicine and Biosciences, Divison of Experimental Asthma Research, University of Kiel, Germany.
20
Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Haukeland, University Hospital, Bergen, Norway.
21
Department of Public Health; Aarhus University, Denmark.

Abstract

Background:

Whereas it is generally accepted that maternal environment plays a key role in child health, emerging evidence suggests that paternal environment before conception also impacts child health. We aimed to investigate the association between children's asthma risk and parental smoking and welding exposures prior to conception.

Methods:

In a longitudinal, multi-country study, parents of 24 168 offspring aged 2-51 years provided information on their life-course smoking habits, occupational exposure to welding and metal fumes, and offspring's asthma before/after age 10 years and hay fever. Logistic regressions investigated the relevant associations controlled for age, study centre, parental characteristics (age, asthma, education) and clustering by family.

Results:

Non-allergic early-onset asthma (asthma without hay fever, present in 5.8%) was more common in the offspring with fathers who smoked before conception {odds ratio [OR] = 1.68 [95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.18-2.41]}, whereas mothers' smoking before conception did not predict offspring asthma. The risk was highest if father started smoking before age 15 years [3.24 (1.67-6.27)], even if he stopped more than 5 years before conception [2.68 (1.17-6.13)]. Fathers' pre-conception welding was independently associated with non-allergic asthma in his offspring [1.80 (1.29-2.50)]. There was no effect if the father started welding or smoking after birth. The associations were consistent across countries.

Conclusions:

Environmental exposures in young men appear to influence the respiratory health of their offspring born many years later. Influences during susceptible stages of spermatocyte development might be important and needs further investigation in humans. We hypothesize that protecting young men from harmful exposures may lead to improved respiratory health in future generations.

KEYWORDS:

asthma; epidemiology; epigenesis; occupational exposure; smoking

PMID:
27565179
DOI:
10.1093/ije/dyw151
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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