The epidemiology of neuroblastoma: a review

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2009 Mar;23(2):125-43. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2008.00983.x.


Neuroblastoma is the most common tumour in children less than 1 year of age. The goal of this review was to summarise the existing epidemiological research on risk factors for neuroblastoma. A comprehensive search of the literature was undertaken using PubMed for epidemiological studies on neuroblastoma risk factors. We ascertained 47 articles which examined the risk factors. Ten studies employed population-based case-control designs; six were hospital-based case-control studies; two were cohort studies; and five employed ecological designs. Studies ranged in size from 42 to 538 cases. Three studies showed evidence of an increased risk of disease with use of alcohol during pregnancy (OR range 1.1, 12.0). Protective effects were seen with maternal vitamin intake during pregnancy (OR range 0.5, 0.7) in two studies, while risk of disease increased with maternal intake of diuretics (OR range 1.2, 5.8) in three studies. Three studies reported a decrease in risk for children with a history of allergic disease prior to neuroblastoma diagnosis (OR range 0.2, 0.4). The rarity of neuroblastoma makes this disease particularly challenging to study epidemiologically. We review the methodological limitations of prior research and make suggestions for further areas of study.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Maternal Age
  • Neuroblastoma / epidemiology*
  • Neuroblastoma / etiology
  • Paternal Age
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Risk Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Young Adult