A study by University of Iowa researchers shows that kids who go to school near large-scale livestock farms may be at higher risk for getting asthma. Doctor Joel Kline, a professor of internal medicine, says they monitored one school near a concentrated animal feeding operation or CAFO, and one school that was not. He says, “We found a significant difference in the rate of asthma between the two schools.”
Kline says the kids at the school near the CAFO were almost six times as likely to be diagnosed with asthma as the kids who went to the control school. Kline says they had questions about the impact on schools after seeing other CAFO studies. Kline says they’d previously seen that workers who work in confinement facilities had reductions in lung function more than other workers. He says they wanted to know if this would also affect students who went to school in the area of a CAFO.
Kline says the findings in the school study were a bit surprising. Kline says, “This was a very large difference, and certainly more of an effect than we would have anticipated.” Kline says while they can’t directly link the higher incidences of asthma to the confinement facility, the evidence is pointing that way. He says they didn’t find any other significant difference in the schools to explain the increase in asthma at the one school.
Kline says more of the parents at the school near the CAFO did smoke, but he says when they did controls for all factors, the location was the most significant predictor of asthma. Kline says the results show a need for more research on the issue. Kline says, “This is an association a study and should really be viewed as a preliminary, and indicating the need for further study.”
Kline says there should be more studies of kids going to school in difference environments, “I would just caution that, that we could not definitively link the location or the CAFO for these findings.” The study appears in the June issue of “Chest”, the peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians. You can read more at www.chestjournal.org.