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1.  Cotinine versus questionnaire: early-life environmental tobacco smoke exposure and incident asthma 
BMC Pediatrics  2012;12:187.
The use of biomarkers has expanded considerably, as an alternative to questionnaire-based metrics of environmental tobacco smoke (ETS); few studies have assessed the affect of such alternative metrics on diverse respiratory outcomes in children, and we aimed to do so.
We evaluated various measures of birth-year ETS, in association with multiple respiratory endpoints early years of life, in the novel context of a birth cohort at high risk for asthma. We administered questionnaires to parents, both at the end of pregnancy and at one year of life, and measured cotinine in cord blood (CCot; in 275 children) and in urine (UCot; obtained at 12 months in 365 children), each by radioimmunoassay. Multiple logistic regression was used to assess the association of the various metrics with recurrent wheeze at age 2 and with bronchial hyperresponsiveness (BHR) and asthma at age 7.
Self-reported 3rd trimester maternal smoking was associated with significantly increased risk for recurrent wheeze at age 2 (odds ratio 3.5 [95% confidence interval = 1.2,10.7]); the risks associated with CCot and 3rd trimester smoking in any family member were similar (OR 2.9 [1.2,7.0] and 2.6 [1.0,6.5], respectively). No metric of maternal smoking at 12 months appeared to significantly influence the risk of recurrent wheeze at age 2, and no metric of ETS at any time appeared to significantly influence risk of asthma or BHR at age 7.
Biomarker- and questionnaire-based assessment of ETS in early life lead to similar estimates of ETS-associated risk of recurrent wheeze and asthma.
PMCID: PMC3543177  PMID: 23216797
Children; Exposure to environmental tobacco smoke; Bronchial hyperresponsiveness; Wheeze; Asthma
2.  Cancer incidence and adverse pregnancy outcome in registered nurses potentially exposed to antineoplastic drugs 
BMC Nursing  2010;9:15.
To determine the relationships of potential occupational exposure to antineoplastic drugs with cancer incidence and adverse pregnancy outcomes in a historical prospective cohort study of female registered nurses (RNs) from British Columbia, Canada (BC).
Female RNs registered with a professional regulatory body for at least one year between 1974 and 2000 formed the cohort (n = 56,213). The identifier file was linked to Canadian cancer registries. An RN offspring cohort from 1986 was created by linkages with the BC Birth and Health Status Registries. Exposure was assessed by work history in oncology or cancer agencies (method 1) and by estimating weighted duration of exposure developed from a survey of pharmacists and nursing unit administrators of all provincial hospitals and treatment centers and the work history of the nurses (method 2). Relative risks (RR) were calculated using Poisson regression for cancer incidence and odds ratios (OR) were calculated for congenital anomaly, stillbirth, low birth weight, and prematurity incidence, with 95% confidence intervals.
In comparison with other female RNs, method 1 revealed that RNs who ever worked in a cancer center or in an oncology nursing unit had an increased risk of breast cancer (RR = 1.83; 95% CI = 1.03 - 3.23, 12 cases) and their offspring were at risk for congenital anomalies of the eye (OR = 3.46, 95% CI = 1.08 - 11.14, 3 cases). Method 2 revealed that RNs classified as having the highest weighted durations of exposure to antineoplastic drugs had an excess risk of cancer of the rectum (RR = 1.87, 95% CI = 1.07 - 3.29, 14 cases). No statistically significant increased risks of leukemia, other cancers, stillbirth, low birth weight, prematurity, or other congenital anomalies in the RNs' offspring were noted.
Female RNs having had potential exposure to antineoplastic drugs were not found to have an excess risk of leukemia, stillbirth, or congenital anomalies in their offspring, with the exception of congenital anomalies of the eye, based on only three cases; however, elevated risks of breast and rectal cancer were observed.
PMCID: PMC2949748  PMID: 20846432
3.  Airflow obstruction in young adults in Canada 
Airflow obstruction is relatively uncommon in young adults, and may indicate potential for the development of progressive disease. The objective of the present study was to enumerate and characterize airflow obstruction in a random sample of Canadians aged 20 to 44 years.
The sample (n=2962) was drawn from six Canadian sites.
A prevalence study using the European Community Respiratory Health Survey protocol was conducted. Airflow obstruction was assessed by spirometry. Bronchial responsiveness, skin reactivity to allergens and total serum immunoglobulin E were also measured. Logistic regression was used for analysis.
Airflow obstruction was observed in 6.4% of the sample, not associated with sex or age. The risk of airflow obstruction increased in patients who had smoked and in patients who had lung trouble during childhood. Adjusted for smoking, the risk of airflow obstruction was elevated for subjects with past and current asthma, skin reactivity to allergens, elevated levels of total immunoglobulin E and bronchial hyper-responsiveness. Of the subjects with airflow obstruction, 21% were smokers with a history of asthma, 50% were smokers without asthma, 12% were nonsmokers with asthma and 17% were nonsmokers with no history of asthma. Bronchial hyper-responsiveness increased the prevalence of airflow obstruction in each of these groups.
Smoking and asthma, jointly and individually, are major determinants of obstructive disorders in young adults. Bronchial hyper-responsiveness contributes to obstruction in both groups.
PMCID: PMC2676367  PMID: 17551598
Airway obstruction; Obstructive lung disease; Risk factors; Young adults
4.  Prevalence of asthma symptoms among adults aged 20–44 years in Canada 
Reported prevalence rates of asthma vary within and between countries around the world. These differences suggest environmental factors in addition to genetic factors in the cause of the disease and may provide clues for preventive strategies. We examined the variability of asthma-related symptoms and medication use among adults in 6 sites across Canada (Vancouver, Winnipeg, Hamilton, Montreal, Halifax and Prince Edward Island) and compared our findings with those from sites that had participated in a recent European survey.
We used the same sampling strategy and standardized questionnaire as those used in the European Community Respiratory Health Survey (ECRHS). The 6 Canadian sites were selected to represent different environments with respect to climate, air pollution and occupational exposure. Community-based samples of 3000 to 4000 people aged 20–44 years were randomly selected in each site. Subjects were asked to complete the questionnaire by mail between March 1993 and November 1994. Prevalence rates (and 95% confidence intervals [CIs]) of asthma symptoms, self-reported asthma attacks and use of asthma medication were compared across the Canadian sites and with sites that had participated in the ECRHS.
The overall response rate of those selected to receive the questionnaire was 86.5% (range 74.5%–92.8%). The prevalence rates of most asthma symptoms varied significantly among the Canadian sites. For instance, 21.9% (Montreal) to 30.4% (Halifax) of the men and 24.0% (Vancouver) to 35.2% (Halifax) of the women reported wheezing in the year before the survey. Depending on the site, 4.4% to 6.3% of the men and 5.2% to 9.5% of the women reported an asthma attack in the last year, and 4.0% to 6.1% of the men and 4.9% to 9.7% of the women were currently using asthma medication. Prevalence rates of symptoms, asthma attacks and medication use did not change with age, but they were higher among women than among men. Compared with the results from the ECRHS sites, those from the Canadian sites were among the highest.
Significant variation in the prevalence of asthma symptoms, asthma attacks and use of asthma medication between Canadian sites and international sites suggests environmental influences. Different combinations of factors in different sites may be responsible for the high prevalence rates and should be the subject of further research to guide clinical management and public health intervention.
PMCID: PMC80927  PMID: 11314453

Results 1-4 (4)