Associations between socioeconomic position and asthma: findings from a historical cohort

Sumaiya Patel, A J W Henderson, Mona Jeffreys, George Davey Smith, Bruna Galobardes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
196 Downloads (Pure)


Understanding the association between asthma and socioeconomic position (SEP) is key to identify preventable exposures to prevent inequalities and lessen overall disease burden. We aim to assess the variation in asthma across SEP groups in a historical cohort before the rise in asthma prevalence. Male students participating in a health survey at Glasgow University from 1948 to 1968 (n = 11,274) completed medical history of bronchitis, asthma, hay fever, eczema/urticaria, and reported father's occupation. A subsample responded to postal follow-up in adulthood (n = 4,101) that collected data on respiratory diseases, early life and adult SEP. Lower father's occupational class was associated with higher odds of asthma only (asthma without eczema/urticaria or hay fever) (trend adjusted multinomial odds ratio (aMOR) = 1.23, 95 % CI 1.03-1.47) but with lower odds of asthma with atopy (asthma with eczema/urticaria or hay fever) (trend aMOR = 0.66, 95 % CI 0.52-0.83) and atopy alone (trend aMOR = 0.84, 95 % CI 0.75-0.93). Household amenities ( 30 years) (OR = 1.48, 95 % CI 1.07-2.05) though this association attenuated after adjusting for age. Adult SEP (household crowding, occupation, income and car ownership) was not associated with adult-onset asthma. Lower father's occupational class in early life was associated with higher odds of asthma alone but lower odds of asthma with atopy in a cohort that preceded the 1960s rise in asthma prevalence. Different environmental exposures and/or disease awareness may explain this opposed socioeconomic patterning, but it is important to highlight that such patterning was already present before rises in the prevalence of asthma and atopy.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)623-631
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number8
Early online date14 Jun 2012
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012


  • Asthma
  • Socioeconomic position
  • Early Life
  • Atopy


Dive into the research topics of 'Associations between socioeconomic position and asthma: findings from a historical cohort'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this