Asthma and selective migration from farming environments in a three-generation cohort study

Signe Timm, Morten Frydenberg, Michael J. Abramson, Randi J. Bertelsen, Lennart Bråbäck, Bryndis Benediktsdottir, Thorarinn Gislason, Mathias Holm, Christer Janson, Rain Jogi, Ane Johannessen, Jeong Lim Kim, Andrei Malinovschi, Gita Mishra, Jesús Moratalla, Torben Sigsgaard, Cecilie Svanes, Vivi Schlünssen

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Individuals raised on a farm appear to have less asthma than individual raised elsewhere. However, selective migration might contribute to this as may also the suggested protection from farm environment. This study investigated if parents with asthma are less likely to raise their children on a farm. This study involved three generations: 6045 participants in ECRHS/RHINE cohorts (born 1945–1973, denoted G1), their 10,121 parents (denoted G0) and their 8260 offspring participating in RHINESSA (born 1963–1998, denoted G2). G2-offspring provided information on parents not participating in ECRHS/RHINE. Asthma status and place of upbringing for all three generations were reported in questionnaires by G1 in 2010–2012 and by G2 in 2013–2016. Binary regressions with farm upbringing as outcome were performed to explore associations between parental asthma and offspring farm upbringing in G0–G1 and G1–G2. Having at least one parent with asthma was not associated with offspring farm upbringing, either in G1–G2 (RR 1.11, 95% CI 0.81–1.52) or in G0–G1 (RR 0.99, 0.85–1.15). G1 parents with asthma born in a city tended to move and raise their G2 offspring on a farm (RR 2.00, 1.12–3.55), while G1 parents with asthma born on a farm were less likely to raise their G2 offspring on a farm (RR 0.34, 0.11–1.06). This pattern was not observed in analyses of G0–G1. This study suggests that the protective effect from farm upbringing on subsequent asthma development could not be explained by selective migration. Intriguingly, asthmatic parents appeared to change environment when having children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)601-609
Number of pages9
JournalEuropean Journal of Epidemiology
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • Asthma
  • Farming
  • Selective migration

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