Childhood brain tumor occurrence in relation to residential power line configurations, electric heating sources, and electric appliance use


To assess the relation between childhood brain tumor occurrence and exposure to potential sources of residential magnetic fields, a population- based case-control study of incident brain tumors was conducted in the Seattle, Washington, area at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center from 1989 to 1994 among children younger than age 20 years who were diagnosed from 1984 to 1990. The specific aims were to evaluate whether proximity to high- current residential power lines, as defined by the Wertheimer-Leeper code, or use of electric appliances or electric heating sources by the mother while pregnant or by the child before diagnosis were associated with increased risks of brain tumor occurrence. The mothers of 133 cases and 270 controls (recruited by random digit dialing) participated. Risk of brain tumor occurrence did not increase with increasing exposure, as indicated by the five-level Wertheimer-Leeper code. When exposure was dichotomized as high versus low, the odds ratio was 0.9 (95% confidence interval 0.5-1.5) and did not vary significantly by sex, age, or histology. No elevations in risk were found for ever versus never use of electric blankets, water beds, or electric heating sources. Odds ratios were slightly elevated for nine appliances and were at or below 1.0 for eight others. These data do not support the hypothesis that exposure to magnetic fields from high-current power lines, electric heating sources, or electric appliances is associated with the subsequent occurrence of brain tumors in children.

Publication Title

American Journal of Epidemiology