136 eastern-Polish farming students (51 females and 85 males, aged 16-23 years) underwent clinical examination, skin prick tests with common and farm-specific allergens, total IgE measurement and Phadiatop test. Atopy was found in 35.3% (95% CI: 27.3-43.3%) of students. For allergic skin diseases, the point prevalence was 5.9%, the lifetime prevalence 28.7%; for allergic rhinitis 12.7% and 16.4%; for asthma 2.2% and 8.8% respectively.
56 students (41.2%) complained of work-related symptoms; most often of pruritus (30.9%), erythema of the skin (16.9%), sneezing (16.2%), rhinorrhea (15.4%), cough (9.6%) and dyspnea (8.1%). The students reported as causative factors of work-related symptoms: grain dust (71.4% of the 56 symptomatic students), hay dust (57.1%), straw dust (17.9%), green parts of plants (5.4%), fertilisers, diesel fuel and farm animals (3.6% each). Prick tests were positive in 30.9% of students, most frequently to Lepidoglyphus destructor (18.4% of all students), Tyrophagus putrescentiae (15.4%), Dermatophagoides pteronyssinus (14.0%), Acarus siro (13.2%) and weed pollens (5.1%).
The only statistically significant difference between males and females found in the study was that in the lifetime prevalence of allergic skin diseases (males 17.6% versus females 47.1%, p<0.001). Students reporting work-related symptoms had significantly more present and past allergic skin diseases and allergic rhinitis (for each feature p<0.01), and past obstructive lung disease (p=0.001). In 12 farming students (8.8%, 95% CI: 4.1-13.6%), employment as a farmer was strongly contraindicated due to health status.
Key words: young farmers, farming students, atopy, allergic diseases, work-related symptoms, occupational disease risk factors, cross-sectional study, epidemiology, eastern Poland, Lublin Study.
© Radoslaw Spiewak
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