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Environ Int. 2017 Sep;106:69-90. doi: 10.1016/j.envint.2017.05.018. Epub 2017 Jun 15.

Residential exposure to pesticides as risk factor for childhood and young adult brain tumors: A systematic review and meta-analysis.

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Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain Centre for Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (LTAP), Avenue E. Mounier 53.02, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium. Electronic address:
Toxalim (Research Centre in Food Toxicology), Université de Toulouse, INRA, ENVT, INP-Purpan, UPS 180 chemin de Tournefeuille, BP 93173 Toulouse, France.
Université catholique de Louvain, Louvain Centre for Toxicology and Applied Pharmacology (LTAP), Avenue E. Mounier 53.02, B-1200 Brussels, Belgium.



Accumulating evidence suggests a positive association between exposure to non-agricultural pesticides and childhood brain tumors (CBT).


(1) To conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of published studies on the association between residential/household/domestic exposure to pesticides and childhood brain tumors. (2) To clarify variables that could impact the results.


Publications in English were identified from a MEDLINE search through 28 February 2017 and from the reference list of identified publications. Risk estimates were extracted from 18 case-control studies published between 1979 and 2016 and study quality assessments were performed. Summary odds ratios (mOR) were calculated according to fixed and random-effect meta-analysis models. Separate analyses were conducted after stratification for study quality, critical exposure period, exposure location, specific exposures, pesticide category, application methods, type of pest treated, type of CBT, child's age at diagnosis and geographic location.


Statistically significant associations were observed with CBT after combining all studies (mOR: 1.26; 95% CI: 1.13-1.40) without evidence of inconsistency between study results or publication bias. Specifically, increased risks were observed for several groupings and more particularly for gliomas and exposure involving insecticides. Statistical significance was also reached for high quality studies, for all exposure periods, for indoor exposure and, more particularly, during the prenatal period for all stratifications involving insecticides (except for outdoor use), for pet treatments, for flea/tick treatment, for studies from USA/Canada and studies from Europe (borderline) as well as for data from studies including children of up to 10years at diagnosis and of up to 15years.


Our findings support an association between residential exposure to pesticides and childhood brain tumors. Although causality cannot be established, these results add to the evidence leading to recommend limiting residential use of pesticides and to support public health policies serving this objective.


Brain tumors; Child; Meta-analysis; Pesticides; Residential exposure; Systematic review

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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