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Open Access Research article

Endotoxin as a determinant of asthma and wheeze among rural dwelling children and adolescents: A case–control study

Joshua A Lawson18*, James A Dosman2, Donna C Rennie3, Jeremy R Beach4, Stephen C Newman5, Trever Crowe6 and Ambikaipakan Senthilselvan7

Author Affiliations

1 Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture & Department of Medicine, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

2 Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

3 Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture, University of Saskatchewan, and the College of Nursing, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

4 Department of Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

5 Department of Psychiatry, Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

6 College of Engineering, University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK, Canada

7 Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Public Health Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB, Canada

8 Canadian Centre for Health and Safety in Agriculture Royal University Hospital University of Saskatchewan, 3641-103 Hospital Drive, Saskatoon, SK S7N 0 W8, Canada

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BMC Pulmonary Medicine 2012, 12:56  doi:10.1186/1471-2466-12-56

Published: 12 September 2012

Abstract

Background

The association between endotoxin exposure and asthma is complex and has been associated with rural living. We examined the relationship between domestic endotoxin and asthma or wheeze among rural school-aged children (6–18 years) and assessed the interaction between endotoxin and other characteristics with these outcomes.

Methods

Between 2005 and 2007 we conducted a case–control study of children 6–18 years in the rural region of Humboldt, Canada. Cases (n = 102) reported doctor-diagnosed asthma or wheeze in the past year. Controls (n = 208) were randomly selected from children without asthma or wheeze. Data were collected to ascertain symptoms, asthma history and indoor environmental exposures (questionnaire), endotoxin (dust collection from the play area floor and child’s mattress), and tobacco smoke exposure (saliva collection). Statistical testing was completed using multiple logistic regression to account for potential confounders and to assess interaction between risk factors. A stratified analysis was also completed to examine the effect of personal history of allergy.

Results

Among children aged 6–12 years, mattress endotoxin concentration (EU/mg) and load (EU/m2) were inversely associated with being a case [odds ratio (OR) = 0.44, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 0.20-0.98; and OR = 0.38, 95% CI = 0.20-0.75, respectively]. These associations were not observed in older children or with play area endotoxin.

Conclusions

Our results suggest that endotoxin exposure might be protective for asthma or wheeze. The protective effect is found in younger school-aged, non-allergic children. These results may help explain the inconsistencies in previous studies and suggest that the protective effects of endotoxin in the prevention of atopy and asthma or wheeze are most effective earlier in life.

Keywords:
Asthma; Children; Endotoxin; Wheeze; Pediatrics; Allergy