Childhood leukemia and electromagnetic fields: results of a population-based case-control study in Germany


The investigation of an association between increased exposure toresidential extremely-low frequency elec-tromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) andchildhood leukemia was part of a population-based case-control study carriedout between 1992 and 1995 in the northwestern part of Germany. A total of 129children with leukemia and 328 controls participated in the EMF-study.Exposure assessment comprised measurements of the magnetic field over 24hours in the child's bedroom at the residence where the child had been livingfor the longest period before the date of diagnosis, and spot measurements atall residences where the child had been living for more than one year. Themedian of the 24h-measurement in the child's bedroom was regarded as the mostvalid exposure variable. For children exposed to more than 0.2 μT, anelevated but not significant odds ratio (OR) was observed (OR = 3.2, 95percent confidence interval = 0.7-14.9). These figures are based on only fourleukemia cases and three controls since only 1.5 percent of the studypopulation was classified as highly exposed. Exploratory analyses revealedORs that were not statistically significantly increased for othercharacteristics of the magnetic field at varying cut-points. The results arecomparable with those from other studies. Although not statisticallysignificant, they may indicate a positive association between EMF andchildhood leukemia.

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Correspondence to Jörg Michaelis.

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Michaelis, J., Schüz, J., Meinert, R. et al. Childhood leukemia and electromagnetic fields: results of a population-based case-control study in Germany. Cancer Causes Control 8, 167–174 (1997).

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  • Case-control study
  • child
  • electromagnetic fields
  • Germany
  • leukemia