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Case control study
Exposure to diagnostic radiation and risk of childhood cancer: overstated risks raise unnecessary concern
  1. Kenneth Hodson1,
  2. Jason Waugh1,
  3. Catherine Nelson-Piercy2
  1. 1Directorate of Women's Services, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle upon Tyne, UK
  2. 2Department of Women's Health, Kings College London, London, UK
  1. Correspondence to Kenneth Hodson
    Directorate of Women's Services, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4LP, UK; kenneth.hodson{at}

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An association between in utero exposure to ionising radiation and childhood cancer, in particular leukaemia, was first identified in 1956.1 Subsequent studies have reported similar findings.2 3 To date, all have retrospectively interviewed mothers regarding exposure to diagnostic radiation and are therefore susceptible to recall bias. Little is known about the effects of neonatal exposure to diagnostic radiation. The purpose of this study was to determine whether exposure to diagnostic radiation and ultrasound in utero and during the first 100 days of life is associated with childhood cancer.


A case-control study was chosen as childhood cancer is relatively rare in the UK, affecting 138.6 per million children under 14 years.4 Cases were identified from the UK Childhood Cancer Study (UKCCS), a large multicentre study of childhood cancer. For each case, two controls matched for sex and age from the same population register were chosen. Parents …

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