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Occupation and motor neuron disease: a New Zealand case–control study


Objectives To assess associations between occupation and motor neuron disease (MND).

Methods We conducted a population-based case–control study with cases (n=321) recruited through the New Zealand Motor Neurone Disease Association and hospital discharge data. Controls (n=605) were recruited from the Electoral Roll. Information on personal and demographic details, lifestyle factors and a full occupational history was collected using questionnaires and interviews. Associations with ever/never employed and employment duration were estimated using logistic regression stratified by sex and adjusted for age, ethnicity, socioeconomic deprivation, education and smoking.

Results Elevated risks were observed for field crop and vegetable growers (OR 2.93, 95% CI 1.10 to 7.77); fruit growers (OR 2.03, 95% CI 1.09 to 3.78); gardeners and nursery growers (OR 1.96, 95% CI 1.01 to 3.82); crop and livestock producers (OR 3.61, 95% CI 1.44 to 9.02); fishery workers, hunters and trappers (OR 5.62, 95% CI 1.27 to 24.97); builders (OR 2.90, 95% CI 1.41 to 5.96); electricians (OR 3.61, 95% CI 1.34 to 9.74); caregivers (OR 2.65, 95% CI 1.04 to 6.79); forecourt attendants (OR 8.31, 95% CI 1.79 to 38.54); plant and machine operators and assemblers (OR 1.42, 95% CI 1.01 to 2.01); telecommunications technicians (OR 4.2, 95% CI 1.20 to 14.64); and draughting technicians (OR 3.02, 95% CI 1.07 to 8.53). Industries with increased risks were agriculture (particularly horticulture and fruit growing), construction, non-residential care services, motor vehicle retailing, and sport and recreation. Positive associations between employment duration and MND were shown for the occupations fruit growers, gardeners and nursery growers, and crop and livestock producers, and for the horticulture and fruit growing industry.

Conclusions This study suggests associations between MND and occupations in agriculture and several other occupations.

  • epidemiology
  • public health

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