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The relationship between residential proximity to extremely low frequency power transmission lines and adverse birth outcomes
  1. Nathalie Auger1,2,3,
  2. Dominique Joseph4,
  3. Marc Goneau1,
  4. Mark Daniel2,3,5
  1. 1Institut national de santé publique du Québec, Montréal, Canada
  2. 2Research Centre of the University of Montréal Hospital Centre, Montréal, Canada
  3. 3Department of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  4. 4Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, Faculty of Medicine, University of Montréal, Montréal, Canada
  5. 5School of Health Sciences, University of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Nathalie Auger, Institut National de Santé Publique du Québec, 190, Boulevard Crémazie Est, Montréal, Québec H2P 1E2, Canada; nathalie.auger{at}


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.

  • Education
  • electromagnetic fields
  • environmental epidemic
  • environmental health
  • low birth weight
  • perinatal epidemiology
  • pregnancy outcome
  • premature infants
  • socioeconomic factors

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  • Funding This research was not funded by an external source. The authors acknowledge with appreciation contributions from Patrick Levallois and Jan Deadman.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval This study was conducted under the Québec population health surveillance plan mandated by the health ministry and approved by the Comité d'éthique de santé publique.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.