STUDY OBJECTIVE--The aim was to test the hypothesis that provision of household amenities such as domestic hot water systems and bathrooms changed hygiene which thereby triggered the epidemic of appendicitis in Anglesey after the second world war. DESIGN--The study was a cross sectional survey with histories of housing and appendicectomy obtained from Anglesey residents by postal questionnaire. The main outcome measure was reported appendicectomy. SETTING--Four general practices in Anglesey. SUBJECTS--2531 men and women born during 1923-62 and randomly selected from age-sex registers. Overall response rate was 73.7%. MAIN RESULTS--Subjects born into households with amenities--piped water, hot water systems, and bathrooms had, if anything, a reduced risk of appendicectomy. However, those who subsequently moved to houses that lacked amenities were at significantly higher risk than people born into houses without amenities who later acquired them. CONCLUSIONS--Provision of household amenities was not the important trigger to the epidemic of appendicitis which occurred in Anglesey after the second world war. Rather, the trigger may have been reduction in domestic crowding caused by the falling birth rate. Findings among those who moved house support other evidence that after infancy household amenities protect against appendicitis and contributed to the fall in appendicitis rates in Anglesey after 1965.
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