Prenatal and Postnatal Medical Conditions and the Risk of Brain Tumors in Children and Adolescents: An International Multicenter Case-Control Study

Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2017 Jan;26(1):110-115. doi: 10.1158/1055-9965.EPI-16-0451. Epub 2016 Sep 13.


Background: Previous studies have evaluated the effect of medical diagnostic radiation on brain tumors. Recent cohort studies have reported an increased risk associated with exposure to head CT scans.

Methods: Information regarding medical conditions, including prenatal and postnatal exposure to medical diagnostic radiation, was obtained from CEFALO, a multicenter case-control study performed in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Switzerland through face-to-face interview. Eligible cases of childhood and adolescent brain tumors (CABT) were ages 7 to 19 years, diagnosed between January 1, 2004 and August 31, 2008, and living in the participating countries (n = 352). The cases were matched by age, sex, and region to 646 population-based controls.

Results: Prenatal exposure to medical diagnostic radiation and postnatal exposure to X-rays were not associated with CABTs. A higher risk estimate of CABTs, although not statistically significant, was found for exposure to head CT scan (OR, 1.86; 95% confidence interval, 0.82-4.22). The associations with head injury, febrile seizure, fever in the first 12 weeks, and general anesthesia were close to unity.

Conclusions: Prenatal or postnatal medical conditions, including medical diagnostic radiation, were not associated with CABTs. On the basis of small numbers of exposed children, we observed a nonsignificant increased risk for CT scans of the head.

Impact: We have presented additional evidence, suggesting that exposure to head CT scan may be associated with the occurrence of CABTs. Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev; 26(1); 110-5. ©2016 AACR.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / physiopathology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internationality
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / adverse effects
  • Male
  • Norway / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / adverse effects
  • Postnatal Care / methods
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Care / methods
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology*
  • Radiation Dosage*
  • Radiation Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Switzerland / epidemiology
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed / adverse effects