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Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2005 Aug;14(8):1928-34.

Ethnic difference in daycare attendance, early infections, and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia.

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Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, Yale University School of Medicine, 60 College Street, New Haven, CT 06520-8034, USA.


A role for infectious agents has been proposed in the etiology of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), particularly for common ALL (c-ALL; ALL diagnosed in children ages 2-5 years and expressing CD10 and CD19 surface antigens). We evaluated the possible etiologic role of daycare attendance (a proxy measure for exposure to infectious agents) and infections during infancy in the Northern California Childhood Leukemia Study. A total of 294 incident ALL cases (ages 1-14 years) and 376 individually matched controls were included in this analysis. In non-Hispanic White children, daycare attendance measured by child-hours was associated with a significantly reduced risk of ALL. Compared with children who did not attend any daycare, the odds ratio (OR) for those who had >5,000 child-hours during infancy was 0.42 [95% confidence interval (95% CI), 0.18-0.99] for ALL and 0.33 (95% CI, 0.11-1.01) for c-ALL. Test for trend is also significant, which supports a dose-response relationship. The magnitude of effect associated with the same number of child-hours was stronger for daycare attendance during infancy than for daycare attendance before diagnosis. In addition, self-reported ear infection during infancy was associated with a significantly reduced risk of c-ALL (OR, 0.32; 95% CI, 0.14-0.74) in non-Hispanic White children. In Hispanic children, no association was observed among daycare attendance, early infections, and risk of childhood ALL or c-ALL. These results offer indirect yet strong support for the infectious disease hypothesis in the etiology of ALL in non-Hispanic White children and highlight an important ethnic difference.

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