Objective: Evaluate whether childhood cancer incidence is associated with counties with hydraulic fracturing (HF).
Methods: We compared cancer incidence in children in Pennsylvania counties before and after HF drilling began, using standardized incidence ratios (SIRs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).
Results: The total number of cancers observed was close to expected both before drilling began (SIR = 0.94; 95% CI, 0.90 to 0.99) and after drilling (SIR = 1.02; 95% CI, 0.98 to 1.07) for counties with oil and natural gas wells. Analyses for childhood leukemia were also unremarkable (SIR for leukemia before drilling = 0.97 [95% CI, 0.88 to 1.06]; SIR for leukemia after drilling = 1.01 [95% CI, 0.92 to 1.11]). A slightly elevated SIR was found for central nervous system tumors after drilling (SIR = 1.13; 95% CI, 1.02 to 1.25). This was because of a slight excess in those counties with the fewest number of wells.
Conclusions: This study offers comfort concerning health effects of HF on childhood cancers.