Medical record validation of maternally reported birth characteristics and pregnancy-related events: A report from the Children's Cancer Group

Janet E. Olson, Xiao Ou Shu, Julie A. Ross, Thomas Pendergrass, Leslie L. Robison

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213 Scopus citations


Epidemiologic studies frequently obtain exposure information through subjects' self-report (personal interview or mailed questionnaire). The authors used data from a case-control study of infant leukemia, to assess the validity and reliability of maternally reported information on birth characteristics such as birth weight, reproductive history, and medical procedures. Cases were gathered from the Children's Cancer Group, a United States and Canadian cooperative clinical trials group with approximately 100 member and affiliate institutions, during 1983-1988. Telephone interviews were completed for 302 cases and 558 matched controls. Medical records of the index pregnancy were obtained for 287 cases and 467 controls. Correlations between medical charts and maternal interview were high for birth weight (r = 0.98, kappa = 0.9) and gestational age (r = 0.86, kappa = 0.6). Mean differences between the two sources were small, -10.5 g for birth weight and -0.36 weeks for gestational age. Reproductive history and medical procedures had high to moderate reliability. Problems after delivery and pregnancy complications generally had low validity and reliability. Little evidence of differential misclassification was found. Time between delivery and interview ranged from zero to 8 years and did not greatly affect reliability. This study suggests that validity and reliability of maternally reported pregnancy and delivery information may differ with the nature of the factor of interest, but is affected little by time from birth or case-control status.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)58-67
Number of pages10
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 1997

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by National Cancer Institute grant no. CA 42479 and the University of Minnesota Children's Research Fund. Contributing Children's Cancer Group institutions, participating principal investigators, and grants are as follows. Group Operations Center, Arcadia, California: Drs. W. Archie Bleyer, Anita Khayat, Harland Sather, Mark Krailo, Jonathan Buckley, Daniel Stram, and Richard Sposto (grant no. CA 13539); University of Michigan Medical Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan: Dr. Raymond Hutchinson (grant no. CA 02971); University of California Medical Center, San Francisco, California: Dr. Katherine Matthay (grant no. 17829); University of Wisconsin Hospital, Madison, Wisconsin: Dr. Paul Gaynon (grant no. CA 05436); Children's Hospital and Medical Center, Seattle, Washington: Dr. Ronald Chard (grant no. CA 10382); Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital, Cleveland, Ohio: Dr. Susan Shurin (grant no. CA 20320); Children's National Medical Center, Washington, D.C.: Dr. Gregory Reaman (grant no. CA 03888); Children's Memorial Hospital, Chicago, Illinois: Dr. Edward Baum (grant no. CA 07431); Children's Hospital of Los Angeles, Los Angeles, California: Dr. Jorge Ortega (grant no. CA 02649); Children's Hospital of Columbus, Columbus, Ohio: Dr. Frederick Ruymann (grant no. CA 03750); Columbia Presbyterian College of Physicians and Surgeons, New York, New York: Dr. Sergio Piomelli (grant no. CA 03526); Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania: Dr. Joseph Mirro (grant no. CA 36015); Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, Nashville, Tennessee: Dr. John Lukens (grant no. CA 26270); Doernbecher Memorial Hospital for Children, Portland, Oregon: Dr. Lawrence Wolff (grant no. CA 26044); University of Minnesota Health Sciences Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota: Dr. William Woods (grant no. CA 07306); Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania: Dr. Anna Meadows (grant no. CA 11796); Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, New York, New York: Dr. Peter Steinherz (grant no. CA 42764); James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children, Indianapolis, Indiana: Dr. Philip Breitfeld (grant no. CA 13809); Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, Ontario, Canada: Dr. Mark Greenberg; University of Utah Medical Center, Salt Lake City, Utah: Dr. Richard O'Brien (grant no. CA 10198); Strong Memorial Hospital, Rochester, New York. Dr. Harvey Cohen (grant no. CA 11174); University of British Columbia, Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada: Dr. Christopher Fryer (grant no. CA 29013); Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio: Dr. Robert Wells (grant no. CA 26126);

Funding Information:
Harbor/UCLA & Miller Children's Medical Center, Tor-rance/Long Beach, California: Dr. Jerry Finklestein (grant no. CA 14560); University of California Medical Center (UCLA), Los Angeles, California: Dr. Stephen Feig (grant no. CA 27678); University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics, Iowa City, Iowa: Dr. Raymond Tannous (grant no. CA 29314); Children's Hospital of Denver, Denver, Colorado: Dr. Lorrie Odom (grant no. CA 28851); Mayo Clinic and Foundation, Rochester, Minnesota: Dr. Gerald Gilchrist (grant no. CA 28882); Izaak Walton Killam Hospital for Children, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada: Dr. Dorothy Barnard; University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, North Carolina: Dr. Joseph Wiley; University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey, Camden, New Jersey: Dr. Milton Donaldson; Children's Mercy Hospital, Kansas City, Missouri: Dr. Maxine Hetherington; University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, Nebraska: Dr. Peter Coccia; Wyler Children's Hospital, Chicago, Illinois: Dr. F. Leonard Johnson; New York University Medical Center, New York, New York: Dr. Aaron Rausen; Children's Hospital of Orange County, Orange, California: Dr. Mitchell Cairo.


  • birth characteristics
  • case-control studies
  • epidemiologic methods
  • reliability and validity


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