Living near basestations while pregnant doesn't cause childhood cancers study says

Study shows no association between living near a mobile phone basestation during pregnancy and early childhood cancers.

The study is the first to look at the health effects of basestations in all of Great Britain, and is the largest of its kind.

Researchers from Imperial College London studied almost 7,000 children. They identified 1,397 children aged between zero and four years who had leukaemia or a tumour in the brain or central nervous system between 1999 and 2001, and then compared how close each child's birth address was to a basestation. As a control, they did the same analysis by randomly selecting four healthy children with the same gender and birth date as each sick child.

They were unable to take account of the proportion of mothers who might have moved to the birth address from another address during their pregnancy, because these data were unavailable.

The researchers analysed the approximate distance between the birth address and the nearest basestation, the total power output for basestations within 700m of the birth address, and the power density for basestations within 1400m. They used this information to compare estimates of the mothers' exposure to RF emissions from basestations over the pregnancy.

The results showed that the children with cancer were no more likely to have gestated near a basestation than those without. The estimated exposures to RF emissions from basestations were similar for both groups.

Professor Paul Elliott, director of the MRC-HPA Centre for Environment and Health at Imperial College London, the author of the study, said: "People are worried that living near a mobile phone mast might affect their children's health. We looked at this question with respect to risk of cancers in young children. We found no pattern to suggest that the children of mums living near a basestation during pregnancy had a greater risk of developing cancer than those who lived elsewhere."

The researchers point out that there were aspects of the relationship between childhood cancer and exposure to basestations that the study did not address. The researchers would like to analyse whether there is any association between children's exposure to basestations and their risk of developing cancer.

The study was funded by the Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research Programme, which is funded by a variety of government and industry sources and uses the Department of Health as a secretariat.

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