Journal Article

Parental Occupational Exposure to Pesticides and Childhood Brain Cancer

Edwin van Wijngaarden, Patricia A. Stewart, Andrew F. Olshan, David A. Savitz and Greta R. Bunin

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 157, issue 11, pages 989-997
Published in print June 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online June 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Parental Occupational Exposure to Pesticides and Childhood Brain Cancer

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The authors examined the risk of childhood brain cancer in relation to parental exposure to classes of pesticides among 154 children diagnosed with astrocytoma and 158 children diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET) in the United States and Canada between 1986 and 1989. Controls were selected by random digit dialing and were individually matched to cases by race, age, and geographic area. Each job in the fathers’ work history and the usual occupation of mothers were assigned a probability, intensity, and frequency of exposure to insecticides, herbicides, and agricultural and nonagricultural fungicides. Elevated risks of astrocytoma were found for paternal exposure (ever vs. never) to all four classes of pesticides (odds ratio (OR) = 1.4–1.6). An increased risk of PNET was observed for only herbicides (OR = 1.5). For mothers, odds ratios for astrocytoma were elevated for insecticides, herbicides, and nonagricultural fungicides (OR = 1.3–1.6) but not agricultural fungicides (OR = 1.0). No indication was found of an increased risk for PNET. There was little indication for an association with cumulative and average parental exposure. Most risk estimates were around unity, and exposure-response patterns were absent. Overall, it seems unlikely that parental exposure to pesticides plays an important role in the etiology of childhood brain cancer.

Keywords: brain neoplasms; case-control studies; child; occupational exposure; pesticides; Abbreviations: OR, odds ratio; PNET, primitive neuroectodermal tumors.

Journal Article.  6480 words. 

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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