Risk of childhood leukemia associated with parental smoking and alcohol consumption prior to conception and during pregnancy: the cross-Canada childhood leukemia study

Cancer Causes Control. 2008 Apr;19(3):283-95. doi: 10.1007/s10552-007-9091-8. Epub 2008 Feb 19.


Objective: As part of a larger case-control study, the authors evaluated risk of childhood leukemia relative to parental self-reported smoking and alcohol consumption.

Methods: Children 0-14 years of age diagnosed with leukemia between 1990 and 1994 were ascertained through population-based sources at the time of diagnosis. For each participating case, an age, gender, and area-matched control was randomly selected from provincial government health insurance rolls. Risk factor information was obtained through personal interviews with each child's parents. Conditional logistic regression models were used to examine risk of leukemia associated with parental smoking and drinking.

Results: Maternal alcohol consumption prior to conception (OR = 1.37, 95% CI, 0.99-1.90) and during pregnancy (OR = 1.39, 95% CI, 1.01-1.93) was associated with an excess risk of childhood leukemia, with a positive dose-response trend for increasing weekly consumption (p < 0.05). Similar results were observed for children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Odds ratios for maternal cigarette smoking before and during pregnancy were consistently elevated above one, but not statistically significant. No relationship was observed with paternal drinking or smoking in the perinatal period.

Conclusions: Our study suggests that maternal alcohol drinking before or during pregnancy may contribute to an increased risk of childhood leukemia.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Canada
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoking / adverse effects*