Send to

Choose Destination
Am J Epidemiol. 1988 Feb;127(2):226-42.

A case-control study of congenital malformations and occupational exposure to low-level ionizing radiation.

Author information

Division of Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, GA 30333.


In a case-control study, the authors investigated the association of parental occupational exposure to low-level external whole-body penetrating ionizing radiation and risk of congenital malformations in their offspring. Cases and controls were ascertained from births in two counties in southeastern Washington State, where the Hanford Site has been a major employer. A unique feature of this study was the linking of quantitative individual measurement of external whole-body penetrating ionizing radiation exposure of employees at the Hanford Site, using personal dosimeters, and the disease outcome, congenital malformations. The study population included 672 malformation cases and 977 matched controls from births occurring from 1957 through 1980. Twelve specific malformation types were analyzed for evidence of association with employment of the parents at Hanford and with occupational exposure to ionizing radiation. Two defects, congenital dislocation of the hip and tracheoesophageal fistula, showed statistically significant associations with employment of the parents at Hanford, but not with parental radiation exposure. Neural tube defects showed a significant association with parental preconception exposure, on the basis of a small number of cases. Eleven other defects, including Down syndrome, for which an association with radiation was considered most likely, showed no evidence of such an association. When all malformations were analyzed as a group, there was no evidence of an association with employment of the parents at Hanford, but the relation of parental exposure to radiation before conception was in the positive direction (one-tailed p value between 0.05 and 0.10). Given the number of statistical tests conducted, some or all of the observed positive correlations are likely to represent false positive findings. In view of strong contradictory evidence, based on no demonstrated effects in genetic studies of atomic bomb survivors in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, it is unlikely that these correlations result from a cause and effect association with parental radiation exposure.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center