Infectious diseases in the first year of life, perinatal characteristics and childhood acute leukaemia

Br J Cancer. 2004 Jan 12;90(1):139-45. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6601384.


The objective of the present study was to investigate the role of early common infections and perinatal characteristics in the aetiology of childhood common leukaemia. A case-control study was conducted from 1995 to 1998 in France, and included 473 incident cases of acute leukaemia (AL) (408 acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), 65 acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) age-, sex- and region-matched with 567 population-based controls. Data on the medical history of the child and his/her environment were collected using self-administered questionnaires. Analyses were conducted using nonconditional logistic regression. A slight negative association with early infections was observed (OR=0.8; 95% CI (0.6-1.0)). The association was stronger for early gastrointestinal infections. Early day-care was found to be associated with a decreased risk of AL (OR=0.6; 95% CI (0.4-0.8) and OR=0.8; 95% CI (0.5-1.2) for day-care starting before age 3 months and between 3 and 6 months, respectively). No association with breast-feeding was observed, irrespective of its duration. A birth order of 4 or more was associated with a significantly increased risk of AL (OR=2.0; 95% CI (1.1-3.7) with ALL). A history of asthma was associated with a decreased risk of ALL (OR 0.5; 95% CI (0.3-0.90). Although the results regarding birth order and breast-feeding do not fit with Greaves' hypothesis, the study supports the hypothesis that early common infections may play a protective role in the aetiology of childhood leukaemia, although this effect was not more marked for common ALL.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Age Factors
  • Asthma / complications
  • Birth Order
  • Breast Feeding
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child Day Care Centers
  • Female
  • France / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases
  • Infections / complications*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / epidemiology*
  • Leukemia, Myeloid / etiology*
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Odds Ratio
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors