Skip to Content

As a result of the current Federal government funding situation, the information on this website may not be up to date or acted upon.

The NIH Clinical Center (the research hospital of NIH) is open. For more details about its operating status, please visit

Updates regarding government operating status and resumption of normal operations can be found at

Discovering the causes of cancer and the means of prevention

Publications Search - Abstract View

Title: Pesticides and atopic and nonatopic asthma among farm women in the Agricultural Health Study.
Authors: Hoppin JA,  Umbach DM,  London SJ,  Henneberger PK,  Kullman GJ,  Alavanja MC,  Sandler DP
Journal: Am J Respir Crit Care Med
Date: 2008 Jan 1
Branches: OEEB
PubMed ID: 17932376
PMC ID: PMC2176117
Abstract: RATIONALE: Risk factors for asthma among farm women are understudied. OBJECTIVES: We evaluated pesticide and other occupational exposures as risk factors for adult-onset asthma. METHODS: Studying 25,814 farm women in the Agricultural Health Study, we used self-reported history of doctor-diagnosed asthma with or without eczema and/or hay fever to create two case groups: patients with atopic asthma and those with nonatopic asthma. We assessed disease-exposure associations with polytomous logistic regression. MEASUREMENTS AND MAIN RESULTS: At enrollment (1993-1997), 702 women (2.7%) reported a doctor's diagnosis of asthma after age 19 years (282 atopic, 420 nonatopic). Growing up on a farm (61% of all farm women) was protective for atopic asthma (odds ratio [OR], 0.55; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.43-0.70) and, to a lesser extent, for nonatopic asthma (OR, 0.83; 95%CI, 0.68-1.02; P value for difference = 0.008). Pesticide use was almost exclusively associated with atopic asthma. Any use of pesticides on the farm was associated only with atopic asthma (OR, 1.46; 95% CI, 1.14-1.87). This association with pesticides was strongest among women who had grown up on a farm. Women who grew up on farms and did not apply pesticides had the lowest overall risk of atopic asthma (OR, 0.41; 95% CI, 0.27-0.62) compared with women who neither grew up on farms nor applied pesticides. A total of 7 of 16 insecticides, 2 of 11 herbicides, and 1 of 4 fungicides were significantly associated with atopic asthma; only permethrin use on crops was associated with nonatopic asthma. CONCLUSIONS: These findings suggest that pesticides may contribute to atopic asthma, but not nonatopic asthma, among farm women.