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Cancer Res. 1991 Jul 15;51(14):3696-701.

Maternal and perinatal risk factors for childhood leukemia.

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  • 1Centers for Disease Control, Atlanta, Georgia 30333.


This report describes an exploratory population-based study of maternal and perinatal risk factors for childhood leukemia in Sweden. The Swedish National Cancer Registry ascertained 411 cases in successive birth cohorts from 1973 through 1984 recorded in the Swedish Medical Birth Registry. Using the latter, we matched five controls without cancer to each case by sex and month and year of birth. Mothers of children with leukemia were more likely to have been exposed to nitrous oxide anesthesia during delivery than mothers of controls [odds ratio (OR) = 1.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.0, 1.6]. Children with leukemia were more likely than controls to have Down's syndrome (OR = 32.5; 95% CI = 7.3, 144.0) or cleft lip or cleft palate (OR = 5.0; 95% CI = 1.0, 24.8); to have had a diagnosis associated with difficult labor but unspecified complications (OR = 4.5; 95% CI = 1.1, 18.2) or with other conditions of the fetus or newborn (OR = 1.5; 95% CI = 1.1, 2.1), specifically, uncomplicated physiological jaundice (OR = 1.9; 95% CI = 1.2, 2.9); or to have received supplemental oxygen (OR = 2.6; 95% CI = 1.3, 1.3, 4.9). Because multiple potential risk factors were analyzed in this study, future studies need to check these findings. We did not confirm the previously reported higher risks for childhood leukemia associated with being male, having a high birth weight, or being born to a woman of advanced maternal age.

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