Cancer Causes & Control

, Volume 11, Issue 2, pp 151–156 | Cite as

Parental occupational exposure to magnetic fields and childhood cancer (Sweden)

  • Maria Feychting
  • Birgitta Floderus
  • Anders Ahlbom


Objectives: To test the hypothesis that parental occupational exposure to magnetic fields before conception and during pregnancy increases the risk of cancer in the offspring.

Methods: The study is designed as a cohort study based on a population of 235,635 children born shortly after two different censuses in Sweden. The children were followed from birth to 14 years and cases of cancer were identified in the Swedish cancer registry. The parents' occupational titles in the censuses were linked to a job-exposure matrix with information about magnetic field levels in different occupations. The cancer incidence among the exposed was compared to that among the unexposed using Cox proportional hazards modeling.

Results: There was no association between childhood cancer and maternal occupational magnetic field exposure. Paternal exposure was associated with an increased risk of childhood leukemia, with a relative risk of 2.0 (95% CI 1.1–3.5) for exposures ≥ 0.30 μT. A decreased risk was found for brain tumors (RR = 0.5; 95% CI 0.3–1.0).

Conclusions: The results do not support previous findings of an increased risk of childhood brain tumors associated with paternal occupational exposure to magnetic fields. The finding for childhood leukemia has to be interpreted with caution.

brain tumor cancer child leukemia magnetic fields parental occupation 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Portier CJ, Wolfe MS, eds. (1998) NIEHS Working Group Report. Assessment of Health E.ects from Exposure to Power-Line Frequency Electric and Magnetic Fields. National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences of the National Institutes of Health. NIH publication No. 98-3981.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Wartenberg D (1998) Residential magnetic fields and childhood leukemia. A meta-analysis. Am J Public Health 88: 1787–1794.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Spitz MR, Johnson CC (1985) Neuroblastoma and paternal occupation: a case-control analysis. Am J Epidemiol 121: 924–929.Google Scholar
  4. 4.
    Nasca PC, Baptiste MS, MacCubbin PA, et al. (1988) An epidemiologic case-control study of central nervous system tumors in children and parental occupational exposures. Am J Epidemiol 128: 1256–1265.Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Johnson CC, Spitz MR (1989) Childhood nervous system tumours: an assessment of risk associated with paternal occupations involving use, repair or manufacture of electrical and electronic equipment. Int J Epidemiol 18: 756–762.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    Bunin GR, Ward E, Kramer S, Rhee CA, Meadows AT (1990) Neuroblastoma and parental occupation. Am J Epidemiol 131: 776–780.Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    Wilkins JR, III, Hundley VD (1990) Paternal occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields and neuroblastoma in offspring. Am J Epidemiol 131: 995–1008.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    Kujiten RR, Bunin GR, Nass CC, Meadows AT (1992) Parental occupation and childhood astrocytoma: results of a case-control study. Cancer Res 52: 782–786.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    Wilkings JR, III, Wellage LC (1996) Brain tumor risk in offspring of men occupationally exposed to electric and magnetic fields. Scand J Work Environ Health 22: 239–245.Google Scholar
  10. 10.
    Floderus B, Persson T, Stenlund C, Wennberg A, Öst Å, Knave B (1993) Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields in relation to leukemia and brain tumors: a case-control study in Sweden. Cancer Causes Control 4: 465–476.Google Scholar
  11. 11.
    Floderus B, Persson T, Stenlund C (1996) Magnetic-field exposures in the workplace: reference distribution and exposures in occupational groups. Int J Occup Environ Health 2: 226–238.Google Scholar
  12. 12.
    Colt JS, Blair A (1998) Parental occupational expsoures and risk of childhood cancer. Environ Health Perspect 106 (Suppl. 3): 909–925.Google Scholar
  13. 13.
    Savitz DA (1995) Overview of occupational exposure to electric and magnetic fields and cancer: advancements in exposure assessment. Environ Health Perspect 103 (Suppl. 2): 69–74.Google Scholar
  14. 14.
    Tomatis L (1994) Transgeneration carcinogenesis: a review of the experimental and epidemiologic evidence. Jpn J Cancer Res 85: 443–454.Google Scholar
  15. 15.
    Zahm SH, Ward MH (1998) Pesticides and childhood cancer. Environ Health Perspect 106 (Suppl. 3): 893–908.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2000

Authors and Affiliations

  • Maria Feychting
    • 1
  • Birgitta Floderus
    • 1
  • Anders Ahlbom
    • 1
  1. 1.Institute of Environmental MedicineKarolinska InstitutetStockholmSweden;

Personalised recommendations