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Association between exposure to the Chinese famine during infancy and the risk of self-reported chronic lung diseases in adulthood: a cross-sectional study

02 Jun 2017

Objective

To examine the association between early-life exposure to the Chinese famine and the risk of chronic lung diseases in adulthood.

Design

Data analysis from a cross-sectional survey.

Setting and participants

4135 subjects were enrolled into the study from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study (CHARLS) 2011–2012 baseline survey to analyse the associations between prenatal and early postnatal famine exposure and the risk of chronic lung diseases in adulthood.

Main outcome measures

Chronic lung diseases were defined based on self-reported information.

Results

The prevalence of self-reported chronic lung diseases in fetus-exposed, infant-exposed, preschool-exposed, and non-exposed groups was 6.5%, 7.9%, 6.8%, and 6.1%, respectively. The risk of chronic lung diseases in the infant-exposed group was significantly higher (OR 1.95, 95% CI 1.10 to 3.44) than the non-exposed group in severely affected areas, even after adjusting for gender, smoking, and drinking, family economic status, and the highest educational attainment of the parents (OR 2.57, 95% CI 1.26 to 5.25). In addition, after stratification by gender and famine severity, we found that only infant exposure to the severe famine was associated with the elevated risk of chronic lung diseases among male adults (OR 3.16, 95% CI 1.17 to 8.51).

Conclusions

Severe famine exposure during the period of infancy might increase the risk of chronic lung diseases in male adults.

Click here to view the full article which appeared in BMJ Open