Study type: Epidemiological study (observational study)

Residential magnetic fields as a risk factor for childhood acute leukaemia: results from a German population-based case-control study. epidem.

Published in: Int J Cancer 2001; 91 (5): 728-735

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A population-based case-control study was conducted in Germany to investigate whether residential magnetic fields above 0.2 µT increase a child's risk for leukemia. The findings of previous studies (publication 1959 and publication 975) should be confirmed or rejected.

Further details

Exposure to magnetic fields was measured over a period of 24 hours under the matress of the child's bed and in the livingroom at the residence where the child had been living for the longest period before date of diagnosis. Exposure was categorized in high (0.2 µT and more) and low ( below 0.2 µT).

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation: (odds ratio (OR))

Exposure

Assessment

Exposure groups

Group Description
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
Group 3 median of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: 0.2 < 0.4 µT
Group 4 median of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: ≥ 0.4 µT
Reference group 5 mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: < 0.2 µT
Group 6 mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: ≥ 0.2 µT
Group 7 mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: 0.2 < 0.4 µT
Group 8 mean of 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom: ≥ 0.4 µT
Reference group 9 day-time value: < 0.2 µT
Group 10 day-time value: ≥ 0.2 µT
Group 11 day-time value: 0.2 < 0.4 µT
Group 12 day-time value: ≥ 0.4 µT
Reference group 13 night-time value: < 0.2 µT
Group 14 night-time value: ≥ 0.2 µT
Group 15 night-time value: 0.2 < 0.4 µT
Group 16 night-time value: ≥ 0.4 µT

Population

Case group

Control group

Study size

Cases Controls
Eligible 847 2,127
Contacted 783 2,041
Participants 520 1,319
Participation rate 61 % 62 %
Evaluable 514 1,301
Statistical analysis method: (adjustment: )

Conclusion (acc. to author)

Only 1.5 % of the children in this study were exposed to median magnetic fields above 0.2 µT.
The risk for childhood leukemia and median of the 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom above 0.2 µT (groups 6, 7 and 8) was non-significantly weakly elavated. A significant association was observed between childhood leukemia and magnetic field exposure above 0.2 µT during night (groups 14, 15 and 16).
The evidence for an association between childhood leukemia and magnetic fields in this study is based on a measure of the child's exposure during the night. The findings of the authors' previous studies were confirmed.

Limitations (acc. to author)

The results are based on small numbers of exposed children.

Study funded by

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