Household water source and the risk of childhood brain tumours: Results of the SEARCH International Brain Tumor Study

Beth A. Mueller, Susan Searles Nielsen, Susan Preston-Martin, Elizabeth A. Holly, Sylvaine Cordier, Graziella Filippini, Raphael Peris-Bonet, N. W. Choi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

25 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background. The period in utero is a time of increased vulnerability. Offspring of pregnant women exposed to carcinogenic substances in drinking water may be more likely to develop cancer. We examined whether household water source and the presence of nitrates or nitrites in residential water were associated with increased risks of childhood brain tumours (CBT). Methods. We used data from a multicentre, case-control study with maternal information on residential water source, and nitrate/nitrite levels of tap water measured by dipstick. Subjects included 836 CBT cases and 1485 controls from five countries. Results. The risks of CBT associated with reliance on well water (versus public water) during pregnancy varied widely, with significantly increased risks noted in two (of seven) regions and a decreased risk observed in one region. CBT risk did not increase with increasing nitrate levels. However, our results based on tap water tested in the pregnancy residences suggest the risk of astrocytoma may be associated with increasing levels of nitrite (odds ratio [OR] = 4.3, 95% CI: 1.4, 12.6 for nitrite levels of 1-<5 mg/l nitrite ion; OR = 5.7, 95% CI: 1.2, 27.2 of nitrite ≥5 mg/l). Conclusions. These results should be interpreted with caution because women's recollection of water sources may have contained inaccuracies, and nitrate and nitrite measurements, available for only a portion of subjects, were often obtained years after the pregnancies occurred. However, our results suggest a need for closer evaluation of well water content in some regions and the possibility that a nitrite-related water exposure may be associated with CBT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1209-1216
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Epidemiology
Volume33
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2004
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Childhood brain tumours
  • Drinking water
  • Environmental exposures
  • Nitrates
  • Nitrites

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    Mueller, B. A., Nielsen, S. S., Preston-Martin, S., Holly, E. A., Cordier, S., Filippini, G., Peris-Bonet, R., & Choi, N. W. (2004). Household water source and the risk of childhood brain tumours: Results of the SEARCH International Brain Tumor Study. International Journal of Epidemiology, 33(6), 1209-1216. https://doi.org/10.1093/ije/dyh215