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Radiat Prot Dosimetry. 2008;132(2):246-54. doi: 10.1093/rpd/ncn261. Epub 2008 Oct 16.

Childhood leukaemia and socioeconomic status: what is the evidence?

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Swiss Childhood Cancer Registry, Institute of Social and Preventive Medicine, University of Bern, Finkenhubelweg 11, Bern CH-3012, Switzerland.


The objectives of this systematic review are to summarise the current literature on socioeconomic status (SES) and the risk of childhood leukaemia, to highlight methodological problems and formulate recommendations for future research. Starting from the systematic review of Poole et al. (Socioeconomic status and childhood leukaemia: a review. Int. J. Epidemiol. 2006;35(2):370-384.), an electronic literature search was performed covering August 2002-April 2008. It showed that (1) the results are heterogeneous, with no clear evidence to support a relation between SES and childhood leukaemia; (2) a number of factors, most importantly selection bias, might explain inconsistencies between studies; (3) there is some support for an association between SES at birth (rather than later in childhood) and childhood leukaemia and (4) if there are any associations, these are weak, limited to the most extreme SES groups (the 10-20% most or least deprived). This makes it unlikely that they would act as strong confounders in research addressing associations between other exposures and childhood leukaemia. Future research should minimise case and control selection bias, distinguish between different SES measures and leukaemia subtypes and consider timing of exposures and cancer outcomes.

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