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

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

195 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
Externally publishedYes



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

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology

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