Health consequences of work in childhood in opinions of respondents from agricultural families
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Institute of Rural Health, Lublin, Poland; Maria Curie-Skłodowska University, Lublin, Poland
Ann Agric Environ Med 2013;20(3):624–630
Introduction: The engagement of children in work on a family farm is a common phenomenon in many countries worldwide. An excessive loading of children with work creates many risks for their health or even life. Studies concerning the effect of work on health concern mainly the negative consequences for the health of working children. Objective: The objective of the study was the recognition of opinions of adults from agricultural families concerning the effect of work in childhood on their state of health. Materials and method: The study was conducted by the method of a diagnostic survey using a questionnaire technique, and covered a group of 482 adults from agricultural families. The selection of the study group was targeted according to the following criteria: 1) agricultural family origin, 2) respondents’ age 20 – 65, 3) completed education. Results: The majority of respondents expressed the opinion that work in childhood had no impact on their health. At the same time, 2/5 of respondents considered that work on their parents’ farm exerted an effect on their health in childhood (current effects), whereas nearly 1/3 admitted that an engagement in work in childhood also affected their present state of health as adults (distant effects). Respondents who experienced the impact of work on health perceived both positive and negative consequences of performing agricultural work activities in their childhood. Opinions concerning the effect of work on health depended on loading with agricultural work in childhood. The higher the level of loading with work activities, the more frequently the respondents perceived the impact of work on their health. Conclusion: The engagement of children in agricultural work in a small amount of working time, and adjustment of the endowed jobs to their capabilities brings about many benefits for health with low health risk. In turn, the engagement of children in work from their youngest years and overloading them with work exerts a negative effect on health, especially in later life.