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August/September 2012 (vol. 09/2)

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Research Plus

Medical screening for work-related asthma

Excluding subjects with a family history of asthma would have only a negligible impact on the incidence of work-related asthma (WRA – asthma caused or exacerbated by work factors), this evidence review confirms (72 papers included). Pre-employment/pre-placement factors, including atopy, do increase WRA risk, but are insufficiently predictive for screening out susceptible individuals. Questionnaires should be used to identify workers at risk of developing WRA to help inform ongoing surveillance. There is strong evidence that skin-prick tests using high-quality allergen extracts are suitable for screening workers exposed to high molecular weight sensitisers (eg latex, enzymes, flour). There is strong evidence that a combination of questionnaires, physiological tests and immunology can improve the predictive value of screening.

European Respiratory Review 2012; 21(124): 105–111.  http://err.ersjournals.com/content/21/124/105.abstract

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Occupational Health at Work August/September 2012 (vol. 09/2) pp38