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Research Article

Paternal radiation exposure and leukaemia in offspring: the Ontario case-control study.

BMJ 1993; 307 doi: (Published 16 October 1993) Cite this as: BMJ 1993;307:959
  1. J R McLaughlin,
  2. W D King,
  3. T W Anderson,
  4. E A Clarke,
  5. J P Ashmore
  1. Division of Epidemiology and Statistics, Ontario Cancer Treatment and Research Foundation, Toronto, Canada.


    OBJECTIVES--To test the hypothesis that there is an association between childhood leukaemia and the occupational exposure of fathers to ionising radiation before a child's conception. DESIGN--Case-control study with eight matched controls per case. SETTING--Regions of Ontario, Canada, with an operating nuclear facility. SUBJECTS--Cases were children (age 0-14) who died from or were diagnosed as having leukaemia from 1950 to 1988 and were born to mothers living in the vicinity of an operating nuclear facility. Controls were identified from birth certificates, matched by date of birth and residence at birth. There were 112 cases and 890 controls. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Paternal radiation exposure was determined by a record linkage to the Canadian National Dose Registry. RESULTS--Six fathers of cases and 53 fathers of controls had had a total whole body dose > 0.0 mSv before the child's conception, resulting in an odds ratio of 0.87 (95% confidence interval 0.32 to 2.34). There was no evidence of an increased leukaemia risk in relation to any exposure period (lifetime or six months or three months before conception) or exposure type (total whole body dose, external whole body dose, or tritium dose), except for radon exposure to uranium miners, which had a large odds ratio that was not significantly different from the null value. CONCLUSIONS--The findings of this study in Ontario did not support the hypothesis that childhood leukaemia is associated with the occupational exposure of fathers to ionising radiation before the child's conception.