The objective was to examine whether the observed excess mortality from anaemia in textile and clothing workers was associated with any specific anaemia type or occupational activity. The design was a death certificate based case-control study of textile and clothing workers who died in England and Wales in the years surrounding the decennial censuses of 1961, 1971, and 1981. The main outcome measures were type of anaemia, place of residence, place of birth, and occupation. The frequency of the different types of anaemia in textile and clothing workers differed from that of England and Wales with relatively more deaths from pernicious anaemia than in the country as a whole (74 observed v 55 expected deaths). Within the industry, those whose death was attributed to pernicious anaemia were more than twice as likely as other textile and clothing workers to have worked in textile mills (odds ratio = 2.4, 95% confidence interval 1.4-4.2). These results could not be explained by age, sex, place of residence, or place of birth, and review of the death certificates did not suggest that pernicious anaemia as a cause of death had been recorded in error. Historical support for the finding was found in the Registrar General's 1931 decennial supplement on occupational mortality, in which the standardised mortality ratio from pernicious anaemia in male textile mill workers was estimated to be twice that of the general population. In conclusion, occupational factors, specifically work in textile mills, could be implicated in the pathogenesis of pernicious anaemia. The aetiology of this disease is not well understood and further study of pernicious anaemia in textile mill workers is required.
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