The relationship between residential proximity to extremely low frequency power transmission lines and adverse birth outcomes

J Epidemiol Community Health. 2011 Jan;65(1):83-5. doi: 10.1136/jech.2009.097709. Epub 2010 Jul 13.


Background: Occupational exposure to electromagnetic fields has been linked to adverse birth outcomes. This study evaluated whether maternal residential proximity to power transmission lines was associated with adverse birth outcomes.

Methods: Live singleton births in the Montréal and Québec census metropolitan areas from 1990 to 2004 were extracted from the Québec birth file (N=707,215). Proximity was defined as residing within 400 m of a transmission line. Generalised estimating equations were used to evaluate associations between residential proximity to transmission lines and preterm birth (PTB), low birth weight (LBW), small-for-gestational age (SGA) birth and infant sex, accounting for maternal age, education, marital status, ethnicity, parity, period of birth, and neighbourhood median household income.

Results: There was no association between residential proximity to transmission lines and PTB, LBW and infant sex in unadjusted and adjusted models. A lower likelihood of SGA birth was present for some distance categories (eg, adjusted OR 0.88, 95% CI 0.81 to 0.95 for 50-75 m relative to ≥400 m).

Conclusion: Residential proximity to transmission lines is not associated with adverse births outcomes.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Canada / epidemiology
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Low Birth Weight
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Population Surveillance
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / epidemiology*
  • Premature Birth
  • Residence Characteristics*
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult