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Risk of leukaemia among children living near the Solway coast of Dumfries and Galloway Health Board area, Scotland, 1975–2002


Objective: To investigate allegations of an excess risk of leukaemia among children living near the Solway Firth coast of Dumfries and Galloway Health Board area in Scotland, UK.

Methods: Incident cases of childhood leukaemia (International Classification of Diseases, 10th revision, C91–C95, patients aged 0–14 years) for two almost equal calendar periods of diagnosis (1975–89 and 1990–2002) were selected from the Scottish Cancer Registry database and allocated to predetermined study areas, on the basis of proximity of residence to the Solway coast. Expected numbers of childhood leukaemia cases for the study areas were calculated by applying Scotland’s age-specific, sex-specific and calendar period-specific rates to estimates of the person-years at risk in each study area. The ratios of observed to expected cases or standardised incidence ratios (SIRs) were calculated overall and for each sex and calendar period category. Exact 95% confidence intervals (CIs) for the SIRs were calculated assuming a Poisson distribution for the observed number of cases of childhood leukaemia.

Results: No statistically significantly increased SIRs were found in boys, girls or both combined for any of the areas or periods of diagnosis studied. For the total period of observation (1975–2002), and the more immediate coastal area studied, the SIR for both sexes combined was 1.22 (95% CI 0.53 to 2.40).

Conclusion: No statistically significant evidence was found of an excess risk of childhood leukaemia in the vicinity of the Solway Firth coast of Dumfries and Galloway Health Board area in Scotland.

  • SIR, standardised incidence ratio
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