Infections in early life and childhood leukaemia risk: a UK case-control study of general practitioner records

Br J Cancer. 2008 Nov 4;99(9):1529-33. doi: 10.1038/sj.bjc.6604696. Epub 2008 Sep 30.


We investigated infections in early life (diagnosed in general practice) and subsequent risk of childhood leukaemia in the UK General Practice Research Database (GPRD). All children born at GPRD practices and subsequently diagnosed with leukaemia were identified as cases and were individually matched (on year of birth, sex and practice) to up to 20 controls. The final analysis included 162 leukaemia cases and 2215 matched controls. Conditional logistic regression demonstrated no evidence that children with one or more recorded infection in the first year of life had a reduced risk of leukaemia (OR=1.05, 95%CI 0.69, 1.59; P=0.83) or acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL; OR=1.05, 95%CI 0.64-1.74; P=0.84). Our study provides no support for the Greaves hypothesis, which proposes that reduced or delayed exposure to infections in early life increases the risk of childhood ALL.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Databases as Topic
  • Family Practice
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infections / complications*
  • Infections / drug therapy
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Risk
  • United Kingdom


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents