Farm kids have lower risk of asthma, study shows

October 16, 2007

Farm children appear to have a lower risk of asthma than their urban counterparts or even those living in a non-agricultural rural environment, according to a University of Alberta study.

Analysis of two surveys involving 13,524 asthma-free children aged less than 12 years in the ongoing Canadian National Longitudinal Survey of Children and Youth (NLSCY) showed that children living in a farming environment had a lower risk of developing asthma than their counterparts who resided in either non-farming rural environments, such as residential acreages and rural towns, or an urban environment.

The two-year cumulative incidence of asthma was only 2.3 per cent in farm children, compared to 5.3 per cent for other rural and 5.7 per cent for urban children.

The study was published recently in the journal Respirology.

"Farm children of ages one to five years also showed a stronger protective effect against asthma than those aged six to 11 years, possibly due to earlier exposure to the farm environment," said William Midodzi, lead author on the study and a PhD candidate in the Department of Public Health Sciences in the University of Alberta School of Public Health in Edmonton, Canada.

As well, youngsters with parental history of asthma living in farming environments had a reduced risk of asthma compared to children living in rural non-farm environments, whereas children with parental history of asthma living in urban areas had a higher risk when compared with children living in rural non-farm environments.

Midodzi speculates that exposure to compounds called "endotoxins" from animal viruses and manure and avoidance of urban environment early in life might have reduced the risk for development of asthma.

This study shows that living in a farming environment reduces the risk of developing asthma, in contrast to previous studies reporting that existing asthma was related to exposure to farming environments. The researchers believe that exposure to endotoxins stimulates the body's immune system and keeps it busy fighting bacteria thus reducing the risk of the body turning its immune attention to lung inflammation that causes asthma.

Clinicians who treat patients with asthma can use these findings to identify high-risk children and also educate parents, said study co-authors Carina Majaesic and Brian Rowe, University of Alberta clinician-scientists and physicians with the Capital Health region.

"This research suggests that we should discourage childhood exposure to tobacco smoke, encourage breast feeding, and not worry about keeping children's environment too sterile," said Majaesic.
-end-
The study was supported by various student/research funding awards from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research.

University of Alberta

Related Asthma Articles from Brightsurf:

Breastfeeding and risks of allergies and asthma
In an Acta Paediatrica study, exclusive breastfeeding for the first 3 months was linked with a lower risk of respiratory allergies and asthma when children reached 6 years of age.

Researchers make asthma breakthrough
Researchers from Trinity College Dublin have made a breakthrough that may eventually lead to improved therapeutic options for people living with asthma.

Physics vs. asthma
A research team from the MIPT Center for Molecular Mechanisms of Aging and Age-Related Diseases has collaborated with colleagues from the U.S., Canada, France, and Germany to determine the spatial structure of the CysLT1 receptor.

New knowledge on the development of asthma
Researchers at Karolinska Institutet in Sweden have studied which genes are expressed in overactive immune cells in mice with asthma-like inflammation of the airways.

Eating fish may help prevent asthma
A scientist from James Cook University in Australia says an innovative study has revealed new evidence that eating fish can help prevent asthma.

Academic performance of urban children with asthma worse than peers without asthma
A new study published in Annals of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology shows urban children with poorly controlled asthma, particularly those who are ethnic minorities, also suffer academically.

Asthma Controller Step Down Yardstick -- treatment guidance for when asthma improves
The focus for asthma treatment is often stepping up treatment, but clinicians need to know how to step down therapy when symptoms improve.

Asthma management tools improve asthma control and reduce hospital visits
A set of comprehensive asthma management tools helps decrease asthma-related visits to the emergency department, urgent care or hospital and improves patients' asthma control.

Asthma linked to infertility but not among women taking regular asthma preventers
Women with asthma who only use short-acting asthma relievers take longer to become pregnant than other women, according to research published in the European Respiratory Journal.

What are the best ways to diagnose and manage asthma?
A team of experts from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston examined the current information available from many different sources on diagnosing and managing mild to moderate asthma in adults and summarized them.

Read More: Asthma News and Asthma Current Events
Brightsurf.com 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 Amazon.com.