Fathers' occupational contacts and risk of childhood leukemia and non-hodgkin lymphoma

Epidemiology. 2004 May;15(3):352-6. doi: 10.1097/01.ede.0000120883.24664.26.


Background: There is evidence to suggest that childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma have an infective etiology. We investigated the risk of childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in relation to paternal occupational contact with other individuals, a surrogate for potential exposure to infection.

Methods: We carried out a case-control study using 792 cases from the Northern Region Young Persons' Malignant Disease Registry, United Kingdom, 1968-1997, and 2 large population-based control groups. Paternal occupations at birth were classified as having standard, high, or very high levels of contact. Conditional logistic regression was used in the analysis.

Results: There was an increased risk of childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma in those children whose fathers' occupational contacts were high or very high compared with standard (odds ratio = 1.3; 95% confidence interval = 1.0-1.5). The excess risk in the very high group was most pronounced for 245 cases of acute lymphoblastic leukemia aged 2 to 5 years at diagnosis (1.5; 1.1-2.1). The risk with paternal occupational contacts was greater in rural areas, although it was also present in urban areas. The risks of leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma were also higher among the offspring of men employed as policemen, sales representatives, or teachers.

Conclusions: Our findings are consistent with the hypothesis of an infective etiology for childhood leukemia and non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and they add to the evidence that infections could be transmitted to children by adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / epidemiology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology*
  • Male
  • Occupational Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Paternal Exposure
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Prognosis
  • Reference Values
  • Registries
  • Risk Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Analysis
  • United Kingdom / epidemiology