Maternal use of recreational drugs and neuroblastoma in offspring: a report from the Children's Oncology Group (United States)

Cancer Causes Control. 2006 Jun;17(5):663-9. doi: 10.1007/s10552-005-0580-3.


Objective: To evaluate whether maternal use of recreational drugs around conception and pregnancy influences the risk of childhood neuroblastoma.

Methods: Self-reported use of recreational drugs from one month prior to pregnancy until diagnosis was assessed among mothers of 538 children with neuroblastoma (diagnosed 1992-1994 and identified through the Children's Cancer Group and Pediatric Oncology Group) and 504 age-matched controls (identified by random-digit dialing). Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were estimated using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for age at diagnosis and household income.

Results: Maternal use of any illicit or recreational drug around pregnancy was associated with an increased risk of neuroblastoma in offspring (OR = 1.82, 95% CI: 1.13, 3.00), particularly use of marijuana in the first trimester of pregnancy (OR = 4.75, 95% CI: 1.55, 16.48). Marijuana use in the month before pregnancy did not increase risk. The effect of gestational marijuana exposure was strongest in subjects diagnosed before age one. Evaluation of recreational drugs other than marijuana was limited by infrequent use, and analyses of drug use by fathers were not carried out due to missing data.

Conclusions: Maternal recreational drug use and marijuana use during pregnancy were associated with increased risk of neuroblastoma in offspring. Further examination of these drugs and the risk of childhood cancer is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Illicit Drugs / adverse effects*
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Marijuana Smoking / adverse effects
  • Neuroblastoma / chemically induced*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Pregnancy


  • Illicit Drugs