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Women’s Exposure to Domestic Violence Associated with Risk of Developing Atopic Diseases

AAAAI News Release

May 5, 2023

April Presnell, Media & Member Communications Manager
(414) 272-6071

New research from JACI: In Practice, an official journal of the AAAAI, found that women exposed to domestic violence were more likely to develop asthma, allergic rhino-conjunctivitis, and atopic eczema.

Being a woman exposed to domestic violence and abuse is positively associated with the development of atopic disease, with the association strongest for asthma development, according to research published in The Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice (JACI: In Practice), a journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI).

“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,” said Dr Joht Singh Chandan, PhD, corresponding author of the study.

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,” Dr. Chandan said.

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.

You can learn more about atopic diseases here. If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic violence, visit the National Domestic Violence Hotline website or contact their hotline at 1-800-799-7233 for assistance.

The American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology (AAAAI) is the leading membership organization of more than 7,100 allergists, asthma specialists, clinical immunologists, allied health professionals and others with a special interest in the research and treatment of allergic and immunologic diseases. The AAAAI is the go-to resource for patients living with allergies, asthma and immune deficiency disorders. Established in 1943, the AAAAI has more than 7,100 members in the United States, Canada and 72 other countries. AAAAI’s Find an Allergist/Immunologist service is a trusted resource to help you find a specialist close to home.