The association between birth order, sibship size and glioma development in adulthood

Int J Cancer. 2010 Jun 1;126(11):2752-6. doi: 10.1002/ijc.24962.


The etiology of brain tumors is still largely unknown. Previous research indicates that infectious agents and immunological characteristics may influence adult glioma risk. The purpose of our study was to evaluate the effects of birth order and sibship size (total number of siblings), as indicators of the timing and frequency of early life infections, on adult glioma risk using a population of 489 cases and 540 cancer-free controls from the Harris County Brain Tumor Study. Odds ratios for birth order and sibship size were calculated separately from multivariable logistic regression models, adjusting for sex, family history of cancer, education, and age. Each one-unit increase in birth order confers a 13% decreased risk of glioma development in adulthood (OR = 0.87, 95% CI = 0.79-0.97). However, sibship size was not significantly associated with adult glioma status (OR = 0.97, 95% CI = 0.91-1.04). Our study indicates that individuals who were more likely to develop common childhood infections at an earlier age (those with a higher birth order) may be more protected against developing glioma in adulthood. More biological and epidemiological research is warranted to clarify the exact mechanisms through which the timing of common childhood infections and the course of early life immune development affect gliomagenesis.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Order*
  • Brain Neoplasms / epidemiology*
  • Brain Neoplasms / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms / prevention & control
  • Child
  • Educational Status
  • Family Characteristics
  • Female
  • Glioma / epidemiology*
  • Glioma / genetics
  • Glioma / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical History Taking
  • Middle Aged
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Regression Analysis
  • Risk Factors
  • Seasons
  • Siblings*