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Advances in childhood leukaemia

David S Ziegler, Luciano Dalla Pozza, Keith D Waters and Glenn M Marshall
Med J Aust 2005; 182 (7): 364-365.
Published online: 4 April 2005

In reply: Hocking states that electromagnetic fields cannot be ruled out as a cause of childhood leukaemia. However, several large studies have all failed to find any association between childhood exposure to electromagnetic radiation and leukaemia.1-4 The two pooled meta-analyses Hocking refers to both found no increased incidence of leukaemia with exposure to electromagnetic fields of < 0.4 microtesla.5,6 Although there was an increased risk of leukaemia with exposure to ≥ 0.4 microtesla, 99.2% of children with leukaemia had not received such a high level of exposure. 5 In addition, both studies acknowledged the potential for selection bias. As such, for the overwhelming majority of children with leukaemia, exposure to electromagnetic fields does not play any significant causative role. Although we agree its effect cannot be ruled out for the remaining < 1% of patients, it should not be given undue epidemiological weight.

  • David S Ziegler1
  • Luciano Dalla Pozza1
  • Keith D Waters2
  • Glenn M Marshall3

  • 1 Sydney Children’s Hospital, High Street, Randwick, NSW 2031.
  • 2 Children’s Hospital at Westmead, Sydney, NSW.
  • 3 Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne, VIC.

Correspondence: g.marshall@unsw.edu.au

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