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Child Leukemia Again Linked to Power Lines

Study: Slight Tendency for Kids With Leukemia to Live Near Power Lines

Power Lines and Infections

Dickinson suggests that the Draper team's findings are real. But she thinks that living near power lines is linked to something else -- something that really does increase a child's leukemia risk.

"We know the rate of leukemia varies by a factor of two or three between isolated rural areas," Dickinson says. "And this is related to an influx of population that can change pattern of the infections to which a child is exposed."

Sudden exposure of once-isolated children to a lot of new childhood diseases, Dickinson suggests, may be linked to leukemia risk. She suggests that this may be a "confounding factor" in the Draper team's findings.

But even if living near power lines does raise a child's risk of leukemia, Dickinson notes that the risk is small.

"A 70% increase in leukemia means that the 1 in 2,000 risk of leukemia becomes a 1 in 1,200 risk," she says. "In the U.K., this means that five extra children might get leukemia. We need to keep this in perspective -- look at the thousands of children hurt in road accidents each year."

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