Epidemiological Study (case-control study)
Childhood leukemia and electromagnetic fields: results of a population-based case-control study in Germany. epidemiol. By: Michaelis J, Schüz J, Meinert R, Menger M, Grigat JP, Kaatsch P, Kaletsch U, Miesner A, Stamm A, Brinkmann K, Karner H
Published in: Cancer Causes Control 1997; 8 (2): 167 - 174 ( PubMed Entry , Journal web site )
Aim of study (according to author)
The association between residential extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemia was investigated in a population-based case-control study in Germany.
Exposure to magnetic fields were estimated by two different methods of exposure assessment: measurement of the magnetic field over a period of 24 hours in the child's bedroom at the residence where the child had been living for the longest period before date of diagnosis, and spot measurements at all residences where the child had been living for more than one year. Exposure was categorized in high (0.2 µT and more) and low ( below 0.2 µT).
Endpoint/type of risk estimationEstimate of incidence by odds ratio (OR)
groups of exposure:
- magnetic field, 50/60 Hz (AC), power transmission line, inhouse wiring
- type of exposure: residential
- assessment by questionnaire
- assessment by interview
- assessment by measurement (24h-measurement in child's bedroom and living room (every 15 seconds); indoor short measurements; spot measurements (to identify sources of elevated magnetic fields))
- assessment by calculation (median during night (10 p.m. to 6 a.m.))
|Reference group 1: || median of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: < 0.2 µT |
|group 2: || median of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: ≥ 0.2 µT |
|Reference group 3: || mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: < 0.2 µT |
|group 4: || mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: ≥ 0.2 µT |
|Reference group 5: || median during night: < 0.2 µT |
|group 6: || median during night: ≥ 0.2 µT |
|Reference group 7: || mean of medians of 24h-measurements in the child's bedroom and livingroom: < 0.2 µT |
|group 8: || mean of medians of 24h-measurements in the child's bedroom and livingroom: ≥ 0.2 µT |
|Reference group 9: || spot measurement at residence where the child lived longest: < 0.2 µT |
|group 10: || spot measurement at residence where the child lived longest: ≥ 0.2 µT |
|Reference group 11: || maximum of spot measurement at all residences where the child lived for > 1 year: < 0.2 µT |
|group 12: || maximum of spot measurement at all residences where the child lived for > 1 year: ≥ 0.2 µT |
- case group
children, aged from 0 to 14 years
observation period: July 1988 - June 1993
study location: Germany (Lower-Saxony)
source of data: German Childhood Cancer Registry
- control group
local control and state control; selection: population-based
matching: date of birth, 1:2 (case:control)
|Study size || cases || controls |
|number eligible ||219||-|
|number available for analysis ||129||328|
Statistical analysis using conditional logistic regression (adjusted for sex, socioeconomic status, age at diagnosis, degree of urbanization)
Results/conclusion (according to author)
The median of the 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom was regarded as the most valid exposure variable.
A non-significantly elevated risk for the median of the 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom above 0.2 µT was observed, based on 4 cases and 3 controls. The results, although not statistically significant, may indicate a positive association between magnetic fields and childhood leukemia.
Limitations (according to author): Only 1.5 % of the study population were exposed to magnetic fields above 0.2 µT.
(Study character: epidemiological study, case-control study)
Study funded by
- Ministry of Health of Lower Saxony, Germany
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Glossary: 50/60 Hz, AC, cancer registry, case-control study, child, childhood leukemia, conditional logistic regression, diagnosis, electromagnetic fields, epidemiological, exposed, exposure, exposure assessment, extremely low frequency, incidence, leukemia, magnetic fields, matching, median, OR, population, population-based, power transmission line, questionnaire, risk, significant, socioeconomic status, statistically
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