European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 23, Issue 5, pp 369–377 | Cite as

Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields; male infertility and sex ratio of offspring

  • Valborg BasteEmail author
  • Trond Riise
  • Bente E. Moen
Environmental Epidemiology


Concern is growing about exposure to electromagnetic fields and male reproductive health. The authors performed a cross-sectional study among military men employed in the Royal Norwegian Navy, including information about work close to equipment emitting radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, one-year infertility, children and sex of the offspring. Among 10,497 respondents, 22% had worked close to high-frequency aerials to a “high” or “very high” degree. Infertility increased significantly along with increasing self-reported exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields. In a logistic regression, odds ratio (OR) for infertility among those who had worked closer than 10 m from high-frequency aerials to a “very high” degree relative to those who reported no work near high-frequency aerials was 1.86 (95% confidence interval (CI): 1.46–2.37), adjusted for age, smoking habits, alcohol consumption and exposure to organic solvents, welding and lead. Similar adjusted OR for those exposed to a “high”, “some” and “low” degree were 1.93 (95% CI: 1.55–2.40), 1.52 (95% CI: 1.25–1.84), and 1.39 (95% CI: 1.15–1.68), respectively. In all age groups there were significant linear trends with higher prevalence of involuntary childlessness with higher self-reported exposure to radiofrequency fields. However, the degree of exposure to radiofrequency radiation and the number of children were not associated. For self-reported exposure both to high-frequency aerials and communication equipment there were significant linear trends with lower ratio of boys to girls at birth when the father reported a higher degree of radiofrequency electromagnetic exposure.


Electromagnetic fields Infertility Occupational exposure Offspring sex ratio Male infertility Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields 



Confidence interval


Odds ratio



We thank The Royal Norwegian Navy for funding the research program Health, Safety and Work Environment in the Royal Norwegian Navy and the employees in the Royal Norwegian Navy for participating in the study. We are also grateful to Stein Emil Vollset, University of Bergen for important comments in the process of the study and on the article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Section for Occupational MedicineUNIFOB AS, University of BergenBergenNorway
  2. 2.Department of Public Health and Primary Health Care, Section for Occupational MedicineUniversity of BergenBergenNorway

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