Residential proximity to electromagnetic field sources and birth weight: Minimizing residual confounding using multiple imputation and propensity score matching

Frank de Vocht, Brian Lee

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

14 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Studies have suggested that residential exposure to extremely low frequency (50Hz) 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 (≤50m) to ELF-EMF sources was associated with reduced average birth weight of 212g (95%CI: -395 to -29g) 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 ≤50m 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 -116g (95% confidence interval: -224:-7g). No effect was found for proximity ≤100m 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.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-57
Number of pages7
JournalEnvironment International
Volume69C
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 6 May 2014

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2014 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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