Aim: The issue of preterm birth due to exposure to magnetic fields from power lines is unclear. Exposure to electromagnetic field in uterus has been hypothesized as possible preterm birth. The aim of the present study was to determine whether living closer to high voltage power lines increased the risk of preterm labor.
Methods: In a nested case-control study, 135 cases of singleton live spontaneous preterm birth in Rohani hospital, Babol, Iran, during the period between 2013 and 2014 were studied. The 150 control subjects were singleton term live birth in the same year of birth and city of residence using randomized-digit dialing. The shortest distance to any of the high voltage power lines to the maternal residence during pregnancy was measured using ArcGIS software for every case and control. To test the association between the preterm births and the residential proximity to power lines, stepwise multiple logistic regression was used.
Results: There were 28 households, 20 cases (14.8%) and 8 controls (5.3%) situated within 600 meters of high voltage power lines. The adjusted OR for spontaneous preterm birth and birth defect in women who were living in less than 600 meters from high voltage power lines was higher compared to those living at farther distance (OR = 3.28, CI: 1.37 to 7.85) and (OR = 5.05, CI: 1.52 to 16.78), respectively.
Conclusions: Therefore, installing overhead power lines and stations within 600 meters or making overhead underground would be useful in the prevention of both preterm birth and birth defect.
Keywords: congenital abnormalities; electric power supplies; environmental exposure; geographic information systems; premature birth.