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The sensitivity of reported effects of EMF on childhood leukemia to uncontrolled confounding by residential mobility: a hybrid simulation study and an empirical analysis using CAPS data.

  • Author(s): Amoon, Aryana T
  • Arah, Onyebuchi A
  • Kheifets, Leeka
  • et al.
Abstract

Purpose

Residential mobility is considered as a potential source of confounding in studies assessing environmental exposures, including in studies of electromagnetic field (EMF) exposures and childhood leukemia.

Methods

We present a hybrid simulation study where we simulate a synthetic dataset based on an existing study and use it to assess the sensitivity of EMF-leukemia associations to different scenarios of uncontrolled confounding by mobility under two major hypotheses of the infectious etiology of childhood leukemia. We then used the findings to conduct sensitivity analysis and empirically offset the potential bias due to unmeasured mobility in the California Power Line Study dataset.

Results

As expected, the stronger the assumed relationship between mobility and exposure and outcome, the greater the potential bias. However, no scenario created a bias strong enough to completely explain away previously observed associations.

Conclusions

We conclude that uncontrolled confounding by residential mobility had some impact on the estimated effect of EMF exposures on childhood leukemia, but that it was unlikely to be the primary explanation behind previously observed largely consistent, but unexplained associations.

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