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Permanent Night Shift Workers at Higher Risk for Asthma

Increase in risk for moderate-severe asthma observed in morning chronotypes working irregular shifts, including nights

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 18, 2020 (HealthDay News) — Shift workers, especially those working permanent night shifts, have an increased risk for moderate-severe asthma and all asthma, according to a study published online Nov. 16 in Thorax.

Robert Maidstone, Ph.D., from the University of Manchester in the United Kingdom, and colleagues describe the cross-sectional relationship between shift work and prevalent asthma in more than 280,000 U.K. Biobank participants, with adjustment for major confounding variables.

The researchers found that “permanent” night shift workers had an increased likelihood of moderate-severe asthma and all asthma compared with day workers (odds ratios, 1.36 and 1.23, respectively). The odds of wheeze and whistling in the chest were increased for individuals doing any type of shift work. A higher adjusted likelihood of having reduced lung function (forced expiratory volume in one second <80 percent of predicted) was seen for shift workers who never or rarely worked on nights and for people permanently working nights. The risk for moderate-severe asthma was increased among morning chronotypes working irregular shifts, including nights (odds ratio, 1.55).

“There are no specific national clinical guidelines for how to manage asthma in shift workers (or, indeed, when to measure lung function in night shift workers); however, modifying shift work schedules to take into account chronotype might present a public health measure to reduce the risk of developing inflammatory diseases such as asthma,” the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical, medical device, and health care industries.

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