AUTHORS' ABSTRACT: de Vocht et al. 2014 (IEEE #5981): Studies have suggested that exposure to extremely low frequency electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) may be associated with increased risk of adverse birth outcomes. This study tested the hypothesis that close proximity to residential ELF-EMF sources is associated with a reduction in birth weight and increased the risk of low birthweight (LBW), small for gestational age (SGA) and spontaneous preterm birth (SPTB). Closest residential proximity to high voltage cables, overhead power lines, substations or towers during pregnancy was calculated for 140356 singleton live births between 2004 and 2008 in Northwest England. Associations between proximity and risk for LBW, SGA and SPTB were calculated, as well as associations with birth weight directly. Associations were adjusted for maternal age, ethnicity, parity and for part of the population additionally for maternal smoking during pregnancy. Reduced average birth weight of 212 g (95% confidence interval (CI): -395 to -29 g) was found for close proximity to a source, and was largest for female births (-251 g (95% CI: -487 to -15 g)). No statistically significant increased risks for any clinical birth outcomes with residential proximity of 50 m or less were observed. Living close (50 m or less) to a residential ELF-EMF source during pregnancy is associated with suboptimal growth in utero, with stronger effects in female than in males. However, only a few pregnant women live this close to high voltage cables, overhead power lines, substations or towers, likely limiting its public health impact.
AUTHORS' ABSTRACT: de Vocht F and Lee B 2014 (IEEE #6405): Studies have suggested that residential exposure to extremely low frequency (50 Hz) electromagnetic fields (ELF-EMF) from high voltage cables, overhead power lines, electricity substations or towers are associated with reduced birth weight and may be associated with adverse birth outcomes or even miscarriages. We previously conducted a study of 140,356 singleton live births between 2004 and 2008 in Northwest England, which suggested that close residential proximity (d 50 m) to ELF-EMF sources was associated with reduced average birth weight of 212 g (95%CI: -395 to -29 g) but not with statistically significant increased risks for other adverse perinatal outcomes. However, the cohort was limited by missing data for most potentially confounding variables including maternal smoking during pregnancy, which was only available for a small subgroup, while also residual confounding could not be excluded. This study, using the same cohort, was conducted to minimize the effects of these problems using multiple imputation to address missing data and propensity score matching to minimize residual confounding. Missing data were imputed using multiple imputation using chained equations to generate five datasets. For each dataset 115 exposed women (residing d 50 m from a residential ELF-EMF source) were propensity score matched to 1150 unexposed women. After doubly robust confounder adjustment, close proximity to a residential ELF-EMF source remained associated with a reduction in birth weight of -116 g (95% confidence interval: -224:-7 g). No effect was found for proximity d 100 m compared to women living further away. These results indicate that although the effect size was about half of the effect previously reported, close maternal residential proximity to sources of ELF-EMF remained associated with suboptimal fetal growth.