Parental occupations were investigated as possible risk factors for astrocytoma, the most frequently occurring brain tumor in children. A case-control study of 163 pairs was performed. Cases under 15 years of age at diagnosis in 1980–1986 were identified through the tumor registries of eight hospitals in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Delaware. Controls were selected by random-digit dialing and were matched to cases on age, race, and telephone area code. Occupations before the child's conception, during the pregnancy, and after the child's birth were studied separately.

We did not observe any strong associations. Significantly more fathers of cases were electrical or electronic repairmen, a subgroup of an occupational category previously associated with increased risk. An excess of case mothers employed as nurses was observed, which was significant for mothers of children diagnosed before 5 years of age. Elevated although not significant odds ratios were observed for some white collar and professional occupations in case parents; for paternal exposure to paint and paternal occupation in the paper and pulp mill industry, both in the period after the child's birth; and for maternal occupation as a hairdresser.

The lack of strong associations may have resulted from low statistical power for some job groupings. Our study, unlike previous studies, focused on a single type of brain tumor: childhood astrocytoma. Thus our results suggest that some parental occupations associated with childhood brain tumors in previous studies may not be risk factors for childhood astrocytoma.

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This research was supported in part by American Cancer Society Grant PDT 315. Presented in part at the International Society of Pediatric Oncology 22nd Annual Meeting, Rome, Italy, September 1990. The Florence March Charitable Trust Fund and the Canuso Foundation helped support the Tumor Registry of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

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