AIM: It has been suggested that living on a farm decreases the risk of childhood allergy, especially if farming involves livestock. The aim of this study was to examine the association between farming and allergy in children, and the influence of atopic heredity in this association. METHODS: The cross-sectional data of the 7981 children aged 13-14 y who participated in the Finnish ISAAC study between the years 1994 and 1995 were used to evaluate the association between farming and allergy. RESULTS: Living on a farm was associated with a decreased risk of current symptoms of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis among all children (aOR 0.79; 95% CI 0.63, 0.99), and with a decreased risk of hay fever, especially among those children with a parental history of hayfever (aOR 0.60; 95% CI 0.40-0.89, p = 0.072 for interaction). The children of farmers with a history of hay fever also had a decreased risk of current wheeze (aOR 0.38; 95% CI 0.12-1.24, p = 0.040 for interaction). No significant association was found between farming and either asthma or eczema. Children living on a farm with livestock had the lowest risk of allergic rhinoconjunctivitis (aOR 0.69), followed by those living on a farm without livestock (aOR 0.89) compared with the non-farming children (p-value for trend 0.024). CONCLUSION: Our results support the recent findings on a decreased risk of allergy among the children living on farms. A possible differential effect of parental history of hay fever on the relation of farming environment and the risk of allergic symptoms warrant further investigation.
OBJECTIVES: The present study is a pilot project for the Finnish AMAP (Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme/Human Health) investigations. We examined the exposure of northern Finns to chromium (Cr), because analyses of this metal are not included in the AMAP, and local industry and industry throughout the Kola Peninsula may increase chromium fallout in Finnish Lapland. Chromium exposure and its temporal trend were estimated by analyzing hair of northern Finns collected in 1982 and 1991. METHODS: After washing the hair samples, chromium analyses were carried out in 1995 by a method developed by Salmela et al. (1981) and Kumpulainen et al. (1982). The Perkin-Elmer 5000 atomic absorption spectrometer used was equipped with a graphite furnace (HGA-400). RESULTS: Age showed no statistically significant correlation with Cr concentration in hair, but the hair concentration of Cr in men was higher than that in women, both among southern and northern Finns and Sami. CONCLUSIONS: Chromium levels in the hair of Finns and Sami were too low to result in any health hazard, however, exposure to chromium may have slightly increased during the 1990s.
The primary aim of the study was to evaluate the prevalences of allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis and their regional differences among Finnish children. The secondary objective was to determine whether the responses to the questions used are affected by the pollen season if asked during such a season. In 1994-5, the self-reported prevalence of allergic symptoms in four regions of Finland was studied among 11,607 schoolchildren aged 13-14 years, as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). The prevalence of rhinoconjunctivitis during the preceding year was 16% in eastern Finland (Kuopio County, n=2821), 23% in southern Finland (Helsinki area, n=2771), 15% in southwestern Finland (Turku and Pori County, n=2983), and 16% in northern Finland (Lapland, n=3032). The respective prevalences of flexural dermatitis were 15%, 19%, 16%, and 18%. The surveys were performed in winter, except in the Helsinki area where the survey was carried out mainly in the spring pollen season. Among the children studied in autumn in Helsinki, the prevalence of rhinoconjunctivitis was 19% and that of flexural dermatitis 17%. In multivariate analysis, flexural dermatitis was slightly more common in Lapland than in all other areas. In contrast, no significant differences were found in rhinoconjunctivitis. The prevalences of both disorders were twice as high in girls as in boys. In conclusion, regional differences in the prevalence of allergic rhinitis and atopic dermatitis were small in our country, and the prevalence figures were rather similar to those reported from other European countries. Almost half of the children had suffered from at least one atopic disorder, and over one-third had had symptoms in the past year. A clear season-of-response effect was observed; the prevalence of rhinoconjunctivitis was 25% when studied during the pollen seasons in the Helsinki area.
The aim of this study was to determine whether there are regional differences in the prevalence of childhood asthma in Finland. A secondary objective was to assess the concordance between a written and a video questionnaire on asthma symptoms. In 1994-1995, the self-reported prevalence of asthma symptoms in four regions of Finland was studied among 11,607 schoolchildren aged 13-14 yrs, as part of the International Study of Asthma and Allergies in Childhood (ISAAC). The ISAAC written and video (AVQ 3,0) questionnaires were administered in the school setting. The prevalences of any wheezing during the previous 12 months in the ISAAC video questionnaire were 10% in East Finland (Kuopio County, n=2,821), 12% in South Finland (Helsinki area, n=2,771), 12% in Southwest Finland (Turku and Pori County, n=2,983), and 11% in North Finland (Lapland, n=3,032). The prevalences in the ISAAC written questionnaire were 13, 20, 15, and 16%, respectively. The surveys were performed during winter, except in Helsinki where the survey was carried out mainly during the spring pollen season. During autumn, the prevalence in the written questionnaire in Helsinki was 16%. In multivariate analysis, boys had a lower prevalence than girls, and smokers a threefold higher prevalence than nonsmokers. In conclusion, the prevalence of childhood asthma is lower in Finland than in other European countries, and may be even lower in the eastern part of the country. In contrast to the results from some other European countries, prevalences were lower in the video than in the written questionnaire, which suggests that translating the word "wheezing" into other languages, including Finnish, may produce results that cannot be compared. The strong association of smoking with wheeze both in the video and written questionnaires should be considered in further analysis of the ISAAC study.
It is assumed that there are about 30,000 snowmobiles in Lapland. In 12 health centers and in all three hospitals the snowmobile accidents were analyzed in 1990. There were 290 accidents reported. Seventy-two percent were leisure time accidents. The accidents occurred typically in the afternoon during the weekend in the spring. Most accidents took place in the woods by driving into a barrier. Half of the injuries were on extremities, especially on legs. Eighteen % were head injuries and 11% thorax injuries. According to the Abbreviated Injury Scale classification most injuries were of class 1 and 2. There were 5 deaths. Thirty-one % of the injured persons had a helmet. From 1991 the use of the helmet is compulsory. The registration of snowmobiles is important and it should be implemented in Finland. The snowmobile is a significant cause of accidents in Lapland today and preventive measures are urgent.
The heavy industry on the Murmansk region in Russia is releasing huge amounts of waste into the air, including heavy metals and sulphur compounds. To investigate the temporal trend in exposure to certain heavy metals among the inhabitants of north-eastern Finland, a pilot study was carried out involving serum and hair samples from group of 11 persons monitored in Ivalo in 1982 and 1991. A further 6 persons residing near the Russian border in Nellim and 10 adults and 2 children residing in the Sevettijärvi-Näätämö area also participated in 1991. In addition, serum and hair samples were also obtained from controls residing in the Helsinki area. Total mercury content, determined by flow injection analysis and the amalgam system, pointed to a decrease in concentrations in the hair of inhabitants of Ivalo, whereas mercury concentrations were found to be higher in those residing near the Russian border. The mercury concentrations in the hair of northern inhabitants were about 4 times greater than those in the hair of the people from southern Finland on average. No trend towards an increase or decrease was found in copper and zinc concentrations in hair and serum as determined by atomic absorption spectrometry in employing the flame technique. Selenium has been thought to act as an antagonist to the heavy metal mercury. The addition of selenium to fertilisers began in Finland in 1984, but such fertilisers have not been used widely in Lapland. Selenium concentrations, determined by flameless atomic absorption spectrometry, showed an increase with time in the inhabitants of northern Finland. Selenium concentrations were higher in the residents of Lapland than in the southern Finns, but this difference occurred after the addition of selenium to fertilisers has begun to be less common.