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J Clin Epidemiol. 2001 Jul;54(7):702-9.

Risk factors for neuroblastoma at different stages of disease. Results from a population-based case-control study in Germany.

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  • 1Institut für Medizinische Statistik und Dokumentation der Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz, D-55101 Mainz, Germany.


Neuroblastoma is one of the childhood cancers included in two recent population-based case-control studies in West Germany. Altogether, 183 children under the age of 8 with neuroblastoma diagnosed in 1988-1994 and 1785 control children sampled from population registration files participated. Information on potential risk factors was obtained from the children's parents by a self-administered questionnaire and subsequent telephone interview. We observed positive associations with the use of oral contraceptives or other sex hormones during pregnancy (particularly with male offspring), a shorter gestational duration, lower birth weight, and maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy. While the association with maternal use of oral contraceptives or sex hormones was strong for stages I/II (odds ratio 4.5, 95% confidence interval 1.2-16.5), the associations with shorter gestation duration (odds ratio 3.4, 95% confidence interval 1.7-6.7) as well as maternal alcohol consumption during pregnancy (>7 glasses/week odds ratio 5.2, 95% confidence interval 1.3-20.6) were observed only for the unfavourable advanced stages. It is notable that the associations in our study were either observed only for the advanced stages of disease or only for the less advanced stages, but not for both subgroups. This adds to evidence for the hypothesis that neuroblastoma consists of at least two distinct disease entities, which differ in clinical stage at the time of diagnosis.

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