Studies of environmental exposures and childhood leukemia studies do not usually account for residential mobility. Yet, in addition to being a potential risk factor, mobility can induce selection bias, confounding, or measurement error in such studies. Using data collected for California Powerline Study (CAPS), we attempt to disentangle the effect of mobility.Methods:
We analyzed data from a population-based case-control study of childhood leukemia using cases who were born in California and diagnosed between 1988 and 2008 and birth certificate controls. We used stratified logistic regression, case-only analysis, and propensity-score adjustments to assess predictors of residential mobility between birth and diagnosis, and account for potential confounding due to residential mobility.Results:
Children who moved tended to be older, lived in housing other than single-family homes, had younger mothers and fewer siblings, and were of lower socioeconomic status. Odds ratios for leukemia among non-movers living <50 meters (m) from a 200+ kilovolt line (OR: 1.62; 95% CI: 0.72–3.65) and for calculated fields ≥ 0.4 microTesla (OR: 1.71; 95% CI: 0.65–4.52) were slightly higher than previously reported overall results. Adjustments for propensity scores based on all variables predictive of mobility, including dwelling type, increased odds ratios for leukemia to 2.61 (95% CI: 1.76–3.86) for living < 50 m from a 200 + kilovolt line and to 1.98 (1.11–3.52) for calculated fields. Individual or propensity-score adjustments for all variables, except dwelling type, did not materially change the estimates of power line exposures on childhood leukemia.Conclusion:
The residential mobility of childhood leukemia cases varied by several sociodemographic characteristics, but not by the distance to the nearest power line or calculated magnetic fields. Mobility appears to be an unlikely explanation for the associations observed between power lines exposure and childhood leukemia.