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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 1998 Sep;7(9):797-802.

Farm and animal exposures and pediatric brain tumors: results from the United States West Coast Childhood Brain Tumor Study.

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  • 1Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, School of Medicine, University of California at San Francisco, 94109, USA.


Nineteen counties from San Francisco and Los Angeles, California and Seattle, Washington were the United States sites for a large population-based case-control study of childhood brain tumors (CBTs), sponsored by the National Cancer Institute. CBT patients who were < 20 years of age and were diagnosed between 1984 and 1991 were reported to each region's cancer registry. The 801 control subjects were obtained by random digit dial and were frequency-matched to the 540 CBT patients in San Francisco and Seattle (one patient to two controls) and in Los Angeles (one patient to one control). Data collected by in-person interview with subjects' mothers were analyzed to investigate an association between risk for CBTs and life on a farm, exposure to farm animals (dairy cattle, beef cattle, pigs, sheep/goats, poultry, and horses), and some cat and non-farm horse exposures. Elevated risks for CBTs were observed in association with mothers' exposure to pigs [odds ratio (OR) = 3.8, 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.2-12] and horses (OR = 2.2, 95% CI = 1.0-4.8) on a farm during the index pregnancy. Children diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors showed elevated risks for CBTs with personal and maternal prenatal exposure to pigs (child, OR = 4.0, 95% CI = 1.2-13; mother, OR = 11.9, 95% CI = 2.8-51) and poultry (child, OR = 3.0, 95% CI = 1.1-8.0; mother, OR = 4.0, 95% CI = 1.2-14). No other animal exposures of children or mothers were found to be consistently related to CBTs. Children diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors who were on a farm for > 1 year and were first on a farm when they were < 6 months of age also had increased risk for CBTs (OR = 3.9, 95% CI = 1.2-13). A somewhat increased risk for CBTs was found for children of mothers who ever had worked on livestock farms compared with mothers who never had worked on a farm (OR = 7.4, 95% CI = 0.86-64, based on five case mothers and one control mother who worked on livestock farms during the 5 years preceding the birth of the index child). The associations are consistent with those of two previous studies in Norway (P. Kristensen et al., Int. J. Cancer, 65: 39-50, 1996) and the United States and Canada (G. R. Bunin et al., Cancer Epidemiol. Biomark. Prev., 3: 197-204, 1994) that investigated the role of farm-related exposures in the etiology of CBTs.

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