Original paper

Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 24, Issue 7, pp 1269-1278

Exposure to pesticides and the risk of childhood brain tumors

  • Kathryn R. GreenopAffiliated withTelethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia
  • , Susan PetersAffiliated withWestern Australian Institute for Medical Research, University of Western Australia
  • , Helen D. BaileyAffiliated withTelethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia
  • , Lin FritschiAffiliated withWestern Australian Institute for Medical Research, University of Western Australia
  • , John AttiaAffiliated withCentre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of NewcastleHunter Medical Research Institute, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
  • , Rodney J. ScottAffiliated withHunter Medical Research Institute, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of NewcastleHunter Area Pathology Service, HNEHealth
  • , Deborah C. GlassAffiliated withDepartment of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, Monash University
  • , Nicholas H. de KlerkAffiliated withTelethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia
  • , Frank AlvaroAffiliated withDepartment of Paediatric Oncology, John Hunter Children’s HospitalSchool of Medicine and Public Health, University of Newcastle
    • , Bruce K. ArmstrongAffiliated withSydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney
    • , Elizabeth MilneAffiliated withTelethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia Email author 

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Abstract

Purpose

Previous research has suggested positive associations between parental or childhood exposure to pesticides and risk of childhood brain tumors (CBT). This Australian case–control study of CBT investigated whether exposures to pesticides before pregnancy, during pregnancy and during childhood, were associated with an increased risk.

Methods

Cases were recruited from 10 pediatric oncology centers, and controls by random-digit dialing, frequency matched on age, sex, and State of residence. Exposure data were collected by written questionnaires and telephone interviews. Data were analyzed by unconditional logistic regression.

Results

The odds ratios (ORs) for professional pest control treatments in the home in the year before the index pregnancy, during the pregnancy, and after the child’s birth were 1.54 (95 % confidence interval (CI): 1.07, 2.22), 1.52 (95 % CI: 0.99, 2.34) and 1.04 (95 % CI: 0.75, 1.43), respectively. ORs for treatments exclusively before pregnancy and during pregnancy were 1.90 (95 % CI: 1.08, 3.36) and 1.02 (95 % CI: 0.35, 3.00), respectively. The OR for the father being home during the treatment was 1.79 (95 % CI: 0.85, 3.80). The OR for paternal occupational exposure in the year before the child’s conception was 1.36 (95 % CI: 0.66, 2.80). ORs for prenatal home pesticide exposure were elevated for low- and high-grade gliomas; effect estimates for other CBT subtypes varied and lacked precision.

Conclusions

These results suggest that preconception pesticide exposure, and possibly exposure during pregnancy, is associated with an increased CBT risk. It may be advisable for both parents to avoid pesticide exposure during this time.

Keywords

Brain tumors Case–control studies Child Cancer Pesticides Insecticides