Breast-feeding duration and the risk of malignant diseases in childhood in Sweden

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2001 Mar;55(3):179-85. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601142.


Objective: To evaluate childhood cancer in relation to duration of breast-feeding.

Setting: Sweden. Records from Child Healthcare Centres were scrutinised regarding information on breast-feeding and other health-related items.

Subjects: All children aged 0-14 y with a malignant disease (benign brain tumours included) during the time period 1988-91 (n = 962) were identified from the Swedish Cancer Register. An equal number of controls matched for sex and age were selected from the Swedish Birth Register.

Results: Information was obtained for 835 cases and 860 controls. Overall, duration of breast-feeding did not influence the risk for a malignant disease in this age group. However, breast-feeding > or = 1 month increased the risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) yielding an odds ratio (OR) 5.5 with 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-25. Breast-feeding 1 -< 6 months gave OR 5.1, CI 1.1-24 and > 6 months gave OR 7.0, CI 1.3-37 with a significant trend (P = 0.04). Adjustment for maternal and birth-related co-variates gave similar results. For other malignancies no significant changes of the risk were obtained.

Conclusions: Overall, no association between duration of breast-feeding and childhood malignancies was found except for a significantly increased risk for NHL, but this was based on low numbers of cases and needs to be confirmed in other investigations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Brain Neoplasms / etiology
  • Breast Feeding* / adverse effects
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology
  • Male
  • Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Neoplasms / etiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Registries
  • Risk Factors
  • Sweden / epidemiology
  • Time Factors