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Workload and cross-harvest kidney injury in a Nicaraguan sugarcane worker cohort

Journal article
Authors Erik Hansson
J. Glaser
I. Weiss
U. Ekstrom
J. Apelqvist
C. Hogstedt
S. Peraza
R. Lucas
Kristina Jakobsson
C. Wesseling
D. H. Wegman
Published in Occupational and Environmental Medicine
Volume 76
Issue 11
Pages 818-826
ISSN 1351-0711
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Medicine, School of Public Health and Community Medicine
Pages 818-826
Language en
Subject categories Community medicine


Objectives To examine the association between workload and kidney injury in a fieldworker cohort with different levels of physically demanding work over a sugarcane harvest, and to assess whether the existing heat prevention efforts at a leading occupational safety and health programme are sufficient to mitigate kidney injury. Methods Biological and questionnaire data were collected before (n=545) and at the end (n=427) of harvest among field support staff (low workload), drip irrigation workers (moderate), seed cutters (high) and burned sugarcane cutters (very high). Dropouts were contacted (87%) and reported the reason for leaving work. Cross-harvest incident kidney injury (IKI) was defined as serum creatinine increase >= 0.30 mg/dL or >= 1.5 times the baseline value, or among dropouts reporting kidney injury leading to leaving work. Results Mean cross-harvest estimated glomerular filtration rate change was significantly associated with workload, increasing from 0 mL/min/1.73 m(2) in the low-moderate category to -5 mL/min/1.73 m(2) in the high and -9 mL/min/1.73 m(2) in the very high workload group. A similar pattern occurred with IKI, where low-moderate workload had 2% compared with 27% in the very high workload category. A healthy worker selection effect was detected, with 32% of dropouts reporting kidney injury. Fever and C reactive protein elevation were associated with kidney injury. Conclusions Workers considered to have the highest workload had more cross-harvest kidney damage than workers with less workload. Work practices preventing heat stress should be strengthened and their role in preventing kidney damage examined further. Future occupational studies on chronic kidney disease of unknown aetiology should account for a healthy worker effect by pursuing those lost to follow-up.

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