Study type: Epidemiological study

Changes over time in the reported risk for childhood leukaemia and magnetic fields. epidem.

Published in: J Radiol Prot 2019 [in press]

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A meta-analysis was conducted to examine time trends in the risk for childhood leukemia and exposure to power-frequency magnetic fields.

Further details

The 41 included studies are listed in 'Related articles'.
The studies were classified in three groups according to the quality of exposure assessment: Studies with quantified magnetic field estimates and where the methods used meet the defined quality criterion (24 hours measurements or calculated fields), studies with quantified magnetic field estimates, but which did not meet the quality criterion (spot or other short-term measurements) and studies that used methods such as wire codes or residential distance to power lines that do not result in a quantitative magnetic field estimate.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation: (cumulative relative risk)

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
Reference group 1 magnetic field exposure: < 0.1 µT
Group 2 magnetic field exposure: ≥ 0.3 µT
Reference group 3 magnetic field exposure: < 0.1 µT
Group 4 magnetic field exposure: ≥ 0.4 µT

Population

Conclusion (acc. to author)

The cumulative relative risk for childhood leukemia and magnetic fields has indeed declined, for the most rigorous analysis including only studies with high quality magnetic field estimates from a maximum of RR 2.44 in 1997 to RR 1.58 in 2017, but not statistically significantly when tested as a linear trend. Higher risks were observed in studies looking at higher exposures (≥ 0.4 µT vs. ≥ 0.3 µT) and in studies with better quality exposure assessment.
The authors conclude that there is a decline in reported risk for childhood leukemia and magnetic fields from the mid-1990s to now, which is unlikely to be solely explained by improving study quality but may be due to chance, and an elevated risk remains.

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