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Br J Cancer. 2002 Sep 23;87(7):746-50.

Childhood solid tumours in relation to infections in the community in Cumbria during pregnancy and around the time of birth.

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North of England Children's Cancer Research Unit, Department of Child Health, University of Newcastle, Royal Victoria Infirmary, Queen Victoria Road, Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 4LP, UK.


In a retrospective cohort study of all 99 976 live births in Cumbria, 1975-1992, we investigated whether higher levels of community infections during the mother's pregnancy and in early life were risk factors for solid tumours (brain/spinal and other tumours), diagnosed 1975-1993 under age 15 years. Logistic regression was used to relate risk to incidence of community infections in three prenatal and two postnatal quarters. There was an increased risk of brain/spinal tumours among children exposed around or soon after birth to higher levels of community infections, in particular measles (OR for trend=2.1, 95%CI : 1.3-3.6, P=0.008) and influenza (OR for exposure=3.3, 95%CI : 1.5-7.4, P=0.005). There was some evidence of an association between exposure to infections around and soon after birth and risk of other tumours, but this may have been a chance finding. The findings are consistent with other recent epidemiological studies suggesting brain tumours may be associated with perinatal exposure to infections.

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