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Occupational Exposures and the Development of New-onset Asthma: A Population-based Cohort Study From the Ages of 13 to 44 Years

Hoy, Ryan F. MBBS; Burgess, John A. PhD; Benke, Geza PhD; Matheson, Melanie PhD; Morrison, Stephen PhD; Gurrin, Lyle PhD; Walters, E. Haydn DM; Dharmage, Shyamali C. PhD; Abramson, Michael J. PhD

Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine: March 2013 - Volume 55 - Issue 3 - p 235–239
doi: 10.1097/JOM.0b013e31827edefb
Original Articles

Objective: To evaluate the risk of asthma associated with occupational exposures in a population-based cohort.

Methods: The risk of asthma was analyzed in 792 subjects who were asthma free at the age of 13 years. Occupational histories were obtained from subjects at the age of 44 years and occupational exposures determined with an asthma-specific job exposure matrix. Cumulative exposure to latex and risk of asthma was examined using Cox proportional hazards regression.

Results: Development of asthma was modestly related to exposure at any time to high molecular weight latex (odds ratio, 1.4; 95% confidence interval, 0.9–2.3). Cumulative latex exposure of 6 to 15 years was associated with a hazard ratio of 1.6 for the development of asthma and after 16 years increased to 2.65 (95% confidence interval, 1.28–5.47).

Conclusion: There is a significant association between cumulative occupational exposure to latex and new-onset asthma.

From the Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine (Drs Hoy and Benke and Prof Abramson), Monash University, Melbourne, Australia; Centre for MEGA Epidemiology (Drs Burgess, Dharmage, Matheson, and Gurrin), School of Population Health, University of Melbourne, Melbourne, Australia; Royal Brisbane Hospital (Dr Morrison), Brisbane, Australia; and Menzies Research Institute (Prof Walters), Hobart, Tasmania, Australia.

Address correspondence to: Shyamali C. Dharmage, PhD, Centre for Molecular, Environmental, Genetic, and Analytic Epidemiology, The University of Melbourne, Level 3, 207 Bouverie Street, Carlton, Victoria 3053, Australia (

The Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study is supported by grants from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia, the Victorian and Tasmanian Asthma Foundations, the Clifford Craig Medical Research Trust, and the Royal Hobart Hospital Research Foundation. Authors MM, LG, and SCD are supported by NHMRC.

Authors Dharmage, Hoy, Burgess, Benke, Matheson, Morrison, Gurrin, Walters, and Abramson have no relationships/conditions/circumstances that present potential conflict of interest.

The JOEM editorial board and planners have no financial interest related to this research.

©2013The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine