Age, Neurological Symptoms Linked To Injuries In Farmers

February 01, 1999

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- New research suggests that certain factors -- such as age and neurological symptoms -- play significant role in the risk of injuries to farmers.

Researchers from Ohio State University found a higher risk of injury among farmers younger than 30 and those who reported symptoms associated with neurotoxicity, such as difficulty concentrating. Although this study didn't specifically address this issue, exposure to certain pesticides could be responsible for neurologic symptoms in some farmers.

"Frequent exposure to many of the chemicals used on farms may affect hand-eye coordination, judgment or other forms of neuromotor control that, in turn, may influence injury risk," said Mac Crawford, co-author of the study and research associate in the School of Public Health at Ohio State.

The study appears in a recent issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.

Crawford and his colleagues studied 1,565 white males who worked on Ohio cash- grain farms. Farmers were asked questions about farm operation, personal habits, health and if they or anyone else living or working on the farm had had an injury during the past year that required medical attention or required them to cut down on normal activities for more than half a day.

The results showed that 90 subjects reported on-the-job injuries. The remaining 1,475 subjects were used as controls.

Findings showed that 32 percent of the injuries were associated with farm equipment while 29 percent were the result of overexertion or straining. Thirty- seven percent of the farmers reported their injuries were sprains and strains, while 17 percent reported open wound injuries.

The risk of injury seemed to be strongly tied to age, with the greatest risk among farmers younger than 30. Other studies have suggested that the highest risk of nonfatal injury happens among younger farmers.

"Younger farmers may work longer hours than older farmers, exposing them to a higher risk of injury," said Jay Wilkins, study co-author and associate professor of public health at Ohio State. "Also, younger farmers may have less experience than their older counterparts, which might increase risk of injury."

The researchers also found a potential correlation between symptoms of neurotoxicity -- or chemical exposure -- and injury risk. Part of the questionnaire dealt with neurological symptoms, such as difficulty concentrating, confusion or disorientation. Farmers who scored highest on a measure of neurological symptoms were nearly three times more likely to have been injured than farmers who scored lowest on the measure.

"We can't say for sure based on this study that a causal relationship exists between pesticides and injury," Crawford said. "But there is evidence that people who are functioning more poorly neurologically are at greater risk for injury."

While it's difficult to generalize the results of this study to all American farmers because it was limited to white male cash-grain farmers in Ohio, Crawford said many of their counterparts in dairy, beef, produce and other farming operations face the same or similar risks.

Other study co-authors included Lynn Mitchell, consulting research statistician; Melvin Moeschberger, professor; and Lisa Jones, senior statistician, all of the School of Public Health at Ohio State; and Thomas Bean, professor of food, agricultural and biological engineering at Ohio State.

This study was sponsored by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.
Written by Holly Wagner, 614-292-8310;

Ohio State University

Related Public Health Articles from Brightsurf:

COVID-19 and the decolonization of Indigenous public health
Indigenous self-determination, leadership and knowledge have helped protect Indigenous communities in Canada during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, and these principles should be incorporated into public health in future, argue the authors of a commentary in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal)

Public health consequences of policing homelessness
In a new study examining homelessness, researchers find that policy such a lifestyle has massive public health implications, making sleeping on the street even MORE unhealthy.

Electronic health information exchange improves public health disease reporting
Disease tracking is an important area of focus for health departments in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Pandemic likely to cause long-term health problems, Yale School of Public Health finds
The coronavirus pandemic's life-altering effects are likely to result in lasting physical and mental health consequences for many people--particularly those from vulnerable populations--a new study led by the Yale School of Public Health finds.

The Lancet Public Health: US modelling study estimates impact of school closures for COVID-19 on US health-care workforce and associated mortality
US policymakers considering physical distancing measures to slow the spread of COVID-19 face a difficult trade-off between closing schools to reduce transmission and new cases, and potential health-care worker absenteeism due to additional childcare needs that could ultimately increase mortality from COVID-19, according to new modelling research published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Access to identification documents reflecting gender identity may improve trans mental health
Results from a survey of over 20,000 American trans adults suggest that having access to identification documents which reflect their identified gender helps to improve their mental health and may reduce suicidal thoughts, according to a study published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

The Lancet Public Health: Study estimates mental health impact of welfare reform, Universal Credit, in Great Britain
The 2013 Universal Credit welfare reform appears to have led to an increase in the prevalence of psychological distress among unemployed recipients, according to a nationally representative study following more than 52,000 working-age individuals from England, Wales, and Scotland over nine years between 2009-2018, published as part of an issue of The Lancet Public Health journal on income and health.

BU researchers: Pornography is not a 'public health crisis'
Researchers from the Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) have written an editorial in the American Journal of Public Health special February issue arguing against the claim that pornography is a public health crisis, and explaining why such a claim actually endangers the health of the public.

The Lancet Public Health: Ageism linked to poorer health in older people in England
Ageism may be linked with poorer health in older people in England, according to an observational study of over 7,500 people aged over 50 published in The Lancet Public Health journal.

Study: Public transportation use linked to better public health
Promoting robust public transportation systems may come with a bonus for public health -- lower obesity rates.

Read More: Public Health News and Public Health Current Events is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to