The issue of adverse human health effects due to exposure to electromagnetic fields is still unclear, and congenital anomalies are among the outcomes that have been inconsistently associated with such exposure. We conducted a population-based, case-control study to examine the risk of congenital anomalies associated with maternal exposure to magnetic fields (MF) from high-voltage power lines during pregnancy in a community in northern Italy. We identified 228 cases of congenital malformations diagnosed in live births, stillbirths, and induced abortions among women living in the municipality of Reggio Emilia during the period 1998-2006, and a reference group of healthy newborns was matched for year of birth, maternal age, and hospital of birth. We identified maternal residence during early pregnancy and used Geographic Information System to determine whether the residences were within geocoded corridors with MF ≥0.1 μT near high-voltage power lines, then calculated the relative risk (RR) of congenital anomalies associated with maternal exposure. One case and 5 control mothers were classified as exposed, and the RR associated with MF ≥0.1 μT was 0.2 (95% CI: 0.0-2.0) after adjusting for maternal education. While small or moderate effects may have gone undetected due to low statistical power, the results of this study overall do not provide support for major effects of a teratogenic risk due to exposure to MF during early pregnancy.
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