Household pesticides and risk of pediatric brain tumors

Environ Health Perspect. 1997 Nov;105(11):1214-20. doi: 10.1289/ehp.971051214.


A follow-up to a population-based case-control study of pediatric brain tumors in Los Angeles County, California, involving mothers of 224 cases and 218 controls, investigated the risk of household pesticide use from pregnancy to diagnosis. Risk was significantly elevated for prenatal exposure to flea/tick pesticides -odds ratio (OR) = 1.7; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.1-2.6-, particularly among subjects less than 5 years old at diagnosis (OR = 2.5; CI, 1. 2-5.5). Prenatal risk was highest for mothers who prepared, applied, or cleaned up flea/tick products themselves (OR = 2.2; CI, 1.1-4.2; for subjects <5 years of age, OR = 5.4; CI, 1.3-22.3). A significant trend of increased risk with increased exposure was observed for number of pets treated (p = 0.04). Multivariate analysis of types of flea/tick products indicated that sprays/foggers were the only products significantly related to risk (OR =10.8; CI, 1.3-89.1). Elevated risks were not observed for termite or lice treatments, pesticides for nuisance pests, or yard and garden insecticides, herbicides, fungicides, or snail killer. Certain precautions,if ignored, were associated with significant increased risk: evacuating the house after spraying or dusting for pests (OR = 1.6; CI, 1.0-2.6), delaying the harvest of food after pesticide treatment (OR = 3.6; CI, 1.0-13.7), and following instructions on pesticide labels (OR = 3. 7;CI, 1.5-9.6). These findings indicate that chemicals used in flea/tick products may increase risk of pediatric brain tumors and suggest that further research be done to pinpoint specific chemicals involved.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Animals
  • Brain Neoplasms / chemically induced*
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Household Products / standards*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Pest Control
  • Pesticides / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Product Labeling
  • Risk Factors
  • Siphonaptera
  • Ticks


  • Pesticides