Women who have suffered domestic abuse may have a higher risk of developing atopic diseases including asthma, new research has found.
Published today in the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice, the research led by the University of Birmingham found that in analysis of patient records, there were a significantly larger percentage of women who had atopic diseases and had a history of being exposed to domestic abuse and violence compared to those who hadn’t.
Dr Joht Singh Chandan from the University of Birmingham and corresponding author of the study said:
“After adjusting for possible cofounders, our results show women with a recorded exposure to domestic violence and abuse had a 52% increased risk of developing atopic diseases.”
“Domestic violence and abuse is a global issue that disproportionately affects women. We set out to deepen our understanding of the health impacts of domestic violence so evidence-based public health policies can be further developed to address not only domestic violence, but secondary effects like the development of atopic diseases.”
The team of researchers performed a retrospective open cohort study in the United Kingdom, looking at adult women (those aged 18 and older) with a physician recorded exposure to domestic violence and comparing them to women over 18 without a recorded exposure. Patients with pre-existing reports of atopic disease were excluded from the study.
A total of 13,852 women were identified as being exposed to domestic violence and were matched to 49,036 similar women without a reported exposure. In total, 967/13,852 women in the exposed group (incidence rate (IR) 20.10 per 1,000 py) were diagnosed with atopic disease compared to 2,607/49,036 in the unexposed group (IR 13.24 per 1,000 py).
There were limitations to the study. Women in the exposed group were more likely to be a current smoker than women in the unexposed group. Ethnicity data was often lacking in the database and median follow-up for both groups of women was relatively short given the relapsing nature of atopic disease. Researchers hope to address these limitations in future studies.