Residential Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields and Childhood Leukemias: A Meta-analysis

Kayla-Joi Callahan, The University of Texas School of Public Health


The impact of residential exposure to electromagnetic fields (EMFS) on the odds of developing childhood leukemias is uncertain. To synthesize the existing literature and to better understand the relationship between electromagnetic fields and childhood leukemias we conducted a meta-analysis of published studies from which odds ratios and relative risks could be derived. The PubMed, Embase, and Google Scholar databases were searched, which was supplemented by an author search conducted in Scopus. A total of nineteen studies were summarized. The studies were stratified by their respective exposure metrics (e.g. magnetic field strength, distance, and electrical wiring configurations), and effect summary measures were calculated using the fixed effects model for each stratum. A sensitivity analysis was executed in the stratum with the largest number of studies to determine the influence of socioeconomic status (SES) on the overall effect measure. None of the strata provided evidence of a statistically significant relationship between EMFs and the development of childhood leukemias. In the assessment of the magnetic field strength stratum, no evidence of increased odds of childhood leukemias was present among those exposed to ≥ 0.1µT, compared to children who were classified as unexposed (Odds Ratio [OR]: 1.16; 95% Confidence Interval [CI]: 0.91, 1.47). Similarly in the distance stratum, no evidence of increased odds of childhood leukemias was present for children who lived less than 100 meters from an EMF point source, compared to children who lived ≥ 100 meters (OR: 1.34; 95% CI: 0.98, 1.83). Finally in the electrical wiring configurations stratum, there was no evidence of a significant relationship between residences with a very high electrical wiring configuration (a category within the Wertheimer and Leeper classification code), compared to children who lived in residences with very low or underground configurations (OR: 1.30, 95% CI; 0.93, 1.83). The sensitivity analysis, which excluded publications that did not adjust for SES in their models, demonstrated that there was no statistically significant relationship between children exposed to ≥ 0.1µT and childhood leukemias. (OR: 1.17; 95% CI: 0.087 to 1.57; I2 = 40.6%; P=0.11). Taken in their entirety, these findings suggest that there is no association between residential EMF exposure and childhood leukemias, and the association is not dependent on exposure metric. The results also showed that adjusting for socioeconomic status does not have a statistical effect on the overall effect measure.

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Recommended Citation

Callahan, Kayla-Joi, "Residential Exposure to Electromagnetic Fields and Childhood Leukemias: A Meta-analysis" (2018). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI10928082.