Farm-related exposures and childhood brain tumours in seven countries: Results from the search international brain tumour study

Jimmy T. Efird, Elizabeth A. Holly, Susan Preston-Martin, Beth A. Mueller, Flora Lubin, G. Filippini, Rafael Peris-Bonet, Margaret McCredie, Sylvaine Cordier, Annie Arslan, Paige M. Bracci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A total of 1218 cases of childhood brain tumours (CBT) and 2223 control subjects from the general population were included in a population-based case-control study conducted in nine centres in seven countries. Mothers were asked about farm- or agriculture-related exposures. Significantly elevated odds ratios (OR) for CBT were associated with children's personal and maternal prenatal exposure while living on a farm with pigs (child OR = 1.7, mother OR = 2.3), horses (child OR = 1.6, mother OR = 1.8), dogs (child OR = 1.5, mother OR = 1.5) and cats (child OR = 1.5, mother OR = 1.7). Children who were exposed to pigs, horses and cats combined, while living on a farm, had a threefold elevated OR for CBT. Increased ORs for primitive neuroectodermal tumours (PNET) were associated with children's farm exposure to dogs (OR = 1.9) and cats (OR = 2.2), and maternal farm exposure to pigs (OR = 4.2). The OR for CBT was elevated (OR = 2.3) for children of mothers who had preconception/prenatal farm- or agriculture-related employment involving potential contact with animals, relative to no farm- or agriculture-related employment. In particular, increased ORs for CBT were observed for children of mothers who were employed as general farmers (OR= 4.1) or general farm workers (OR = 3.8). During the 5 years preceding the index child's birth, maternal exposures were related to CBT, relative to no maternal exposure to agricultural chemicals or animal products: fertilisers (OR = 1.8), pesticides (OR = 2.0), animal manure (OR = 2.0) and unprocessed wool (OR = 3.0). Our findings suggest that various farm-related exposures are positively associated with CBT and warrant further investigation into the public health importance of these associations.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)201-211
Number of pages11
JournalPaediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2003

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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