The effects of farming and birth order on asthma and allergies

C Zekveld, I Bibakis, V Bibaki-Liakou, A Pedioti, I Dimitroulis, Jessica M Harris, A J Newman Taylor, P Cullinan

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

24 Citations (Scopus)


A farm childhood is apparently protective in allergic disease, but studies of this issue in Europe have been confined to particular types of farming practice. This study addressed whether or not this effect was generalisable. A cross-sectional survey of 800 schoolchildren living in rural Crete was undertaken. Standard questions relating to allergic disease were included and atopy was measured through skin-prick tests involving 10 local aeroallergens. The prevalence of atopy was 24%, but associated symptoms were far less common. At all ages, children from farming families had more frequent contact with farm animals (mainly goats), but were no less likely to be atopic. Atopy and seasonal rhinitis were significantly and independently more common among first-born children. This community has an intermediate prevalence of atopy but a very low frequency of allergic disease; farming does not seem to be an important determinant, possibly because it is of the wrong sort. Thus farming effects may be specific to local practices. First-born children in this community also appear to be at increased risk of allergic disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)82-8
Number of pages7
JournalEuropean Respiratory Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2006

Structured keywords

  • BTC (Bristol Trials Centre)


  • Adolescent
  • Agriculture
  • Air Pollutants
  • Animals
  • Asthma
  • Birth Order
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Environmental Exposure
  • Female
  • Greece
  • Humans
  • Hypersensitivity
  • Hypersensitivity, Immediate
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Skin Tests

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