Long-term effects of in utero exposure to ionizing radiation remain poorly quantified in humans. In this study, the risk of hematologic malignancies was investigated in offspring of female workers of the Mayak Production Association, a large Russian nuclear facility. Excess relative risks (ERR) for exposure to gamma radiation and plutonium were estimated in a cohort of 8,466 offspring who were born between January 1, 1948 and December 31, 1988 and followed until 2009. An unstable linear ERR of 1.12 (95% CI 0.11–3.44) per 100 mGy gamma exposure in utero was estimated based on 32 incident hematologic malignancies in 277,002 person-years under risk. The ERR was increased in the dose category 20–79 mGy gamma exposure in utero (1.75, 95% CI 0.04; 5.63), while the other dose categories showed decreased or unstable estimates. Leukemia showed an ERR of 1.76 (95% CI 0.01–8.33) per 100 mGy based on 13 cases. There was no consistent association with plutonium exposure. While an increased risk of hematologic malignancies after gamma exposure in utero was suggested, the small numbers prevented more definitive conclusions.
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Vol. 186 • No. 4