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Improved Adult Lung Function Linked to Childhood Farm Life

First study to report beneficial effects of growing up on a farm on adult FEV1

cows on a farm

TUESDAY, Sept. 27, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Growing up on a farm might be beneficial to lung function, and early-life farm exposure is associated with reduced risk of allergies and asthma later in life, according to a study published online Sept. 26 in Thorax.

Researchers analyzed data from a survey of 10,201 adults in 14 countries in Europe, Scandinavia, and Australia. Of these participants, 63.9 percent said they spent their first five years of life in a rural village, small town, or city suburb; 26.9 percent lived in the city and 9.2 percent grew up on a farm.

The investigators found that children who spent their early years on a farm had less atopic sensitization (adjusted odds ratio, 0.46), atopic bronchial hyper-responsiveness (0.54), atopic asthma (0.47), and atopic rhinitis (0.43), compared with those with a city upbringing. Women with a farm upbringing had higher forced expiratory volume in one second (FEV1), independent of sensitization and asthma.

"This is the first study to report beneficial effects of growing up on a farm on adult FEV1," the authors write. "Our study confirmed the beneficial effects of early farm life on sensitization, asthma, and rhinitis, and found a similar association for bronchial hyper-responsiveness. In persons with an urban upbringing, a higher biodiversity score predicted less allergic sensitization, but to a lesser magnitude than a childhood farm environment."

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