Risk factors for increased airway responsiveness to methacholine challenge among laboratory animal workers.
As a first step in a prospective study of the incidence of asthma to laboratory animals, a group of 364 adults 18 to 48 yr of age who were beginning employment with laboratory animals were evaluated in terms of their past history, health status, allergy, and airway responsiveness to methacholine. At entry to the study, 269 had previous occupational contact with animals, 109 had chest symptoms in the previous year, 168 had a history of allergic symptoms to laboratory animals (any with asthmatic responses were systematically excluded), and 118 had positive immediate skin tests (29 had positive skin tests to laboratory animals). When defined as a PD20FEV1 of 80 breath units or less, 18.4% of these young adults had methacholine hyperresponsiveness (HRA). Significant risk factors for HRA were found to be younger age, female sex, lower educational level, a history of allergic symptoms to laboratory animals, and a history of chest symptoms. Positive skin tests to laboratory animals were present in 8% of workers; this was not a significant risk factor for HRA although positive skin tests to pollen and household allergens were. Previous work experience was a risk factor, especially among those with allergic symptoms, and a trend toward self-selection was suggested in that the rate of HRA was lowest in workers with more than 2 yr of experience or with two or more previous jobs with laboratory animals.
Newill, CA; Prenger, VL; Fish, JE; Evans, R; Diamond, EL; Wei, Q; Eggleston, PA
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