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Parental Occupational Exposure to Pesticides and Childhood Brain Cancer


van Wijngaarden, Edwin; Stewart, Patricia A.; Olshan, Andrew F.; Savitz, David A.; & Bunin, Greta R. (2003). Parental Occupational Exposure to Pesticides and Childhood Brain Cancer. American Journal of Epidemiology, 157(11), 989-997.


The authors examined the risk of childhood brain cancer in relation to parental exposure to classes of pesticides among 154 children diagnosed with astrocytoma and 158 children diagnosed with primitive neuroectodermal tumors (PNET) in the United States and Canada between 1986 and 1989. Controls were selected by random digit dialing and were individually matched to cases by race, age, and geographic area. Each job in the fathers' work history and the usual occupation of mothers were assigned a probability, intensity, and frequency of exposure to insecticides, herbicides, and agricultural and nonagricultural fungicides. Elevated risks of astrocytoma were found for paternal exposure (ever vs. never) to all four classes of pesticides (odds ratio (OR) = 1.4-1.6). An increased risk of PNET was observed for only herbicides (OR = 1.5). For mothers, odds ratios for astrocytoma were elevated for insecticides, herbicides, and nonagricultural fungicides (OR = 1.3-1.6) but not agricultural fungicides (OR = 1.0). No indication was found of an increased risk for PNET. There was little indication for an association with cumulative and average parental exposure. Most risk estimates were around unity, and exposure-response patterns were absent. Overall, it seems unlikely that parental exposure to pesticides plays an important role in the etiology of childhood brain cancer.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

American Journal of Epidemiology


van Wijngaarden, Edwin
Stewart, Patricia A.
Olshan, Andrew F.
Savitz, David A.
Bunin, Greta R.