Aims: The farming environment in childhood has been reported to decrease the risk of sensitisation to allergens. The purpose of the present study was to explore whether later exposure to a farming environment also could affect this sensitisation.
Methods: A population based sample of 202 women who did not live on a farm and 231 who did. The subjects filled in a questionnaire and underwent skin prick tests for several common and farming related allergens.
Results: The prevalence of sensitisation to any of the allergens was similar in the two groups (37.1 v 34.6% (p = NS). However, compared with women who did not live on a farm, the women who lived on a dairy farm showed a low prevalence of sensitisation to pollens (4.4 v 17.3%, p = 0.01) and cats (3.5 v 10.4%, p = 0.047). The risk of sensitisation to pollens and pets was lowest among women with both a childhood and adulthood farming environment and was dose dependently associated with current contact with farm animals. However, this contact increased the risk of sensitisation to bovine dander.
Conclusion: The farming environment may reduce sensitisation to common allergens also after early childhood. However, it may also increase sensitisation to farm allergens.
- skin prick tests
- farm childhood
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Competing interest statement: none of the authors has any competing interest with respect to the manuscript.
Ethics approval: informed written consent was obtained from every participant and the study was approved by the Ethical Committee for Human Research of Kuopio University Hospital, Finland.