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Pesticides May Cause Asthma Among Farm Women
Date:12/28/2007

But researchers admit study doesn't prove cause and effect

FRIDAY, Dec. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Farm women who come in contact with some widely used pesticides may have an increased risk of developing allergic asthma, a new study suggests.

However, the risk of developing non-allergic asthma does not increase for women exposed to pesticides, according to the study authors.

"Women who apply pesticides on farms were 50 percent more likely to have allergic asthma, although this was not true for non-allergic asthma," said study author Jane Hoppin, a staff scientist with the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences in Research Triangle Park, N.C. "Also, women who grew up on farms were protected against allergic asthma and that protection was evident whether or not you applied pesticides."

The findings are published in the January issue of the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine.

According to the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America, non-allergic asthma is caused by factors not related to allergies. But allergic asthma -- the most common form of asthma, affecting more than 50 percent of the 20 million asthma sufferers in the United States -- is characterized by symptoms that are triggered by an allergic reaction. Some typical triggers for allergic asthma include dust mites, pet dander, pollen and mold.

Experts already knew that growing up on a farm minimizes the risk of allergic disease, that pesticides have been associated with respiratory symptoms in farmers, and that farmers are at increased risk for respiratory diseases -- including asthma -- due to exposure to grains, animals, dust and other factors.

Little research, however, has delved into respiratory risk factors for farm women.

Hoppin and her colleagues examined data on 25,814 such women in North Carolina and in Iowa who are participating in the Agricultural Health Study, a la
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