Is birth weight associated with childhood lymphoma? A meta-analysis

Int J Cancer. 2012 Jan 1;130(1):179-89. doi: 10.1002/ijc.26001. Epub 2011 Apr 20.


Several risk factors have been identified for childhood lymphomas. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to synthesize current evidence regarding the association between birth weight with primarily the risk for non-Hodgkin lymphoma (NHL), given its similarity to acute lymphoblastic leukemia, Hodgkin lymphoma (HL) and any category of lymphoma. Two cohort (278,751 children) and seven case-control studies (2,660 cases and 69,274 controls) were included. Effects estimates regarding NHL, HL and any lymphoma were appropriately pooled using fixed or random effects model in two separate analyses: specifically, high was compared to normal or any birth weight. Similarly, low was compared to normal or any birth weight. No statistically significant association was found between high birth weight, as compared to normal birth weight, and risk for NHL plus Burkitt lymphoma (OR = 1.17, 95% CI = 0.76-1.80, random effects), HL (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.64-1.38, fixed effects) or any plus Burkitt lymphoma (OR = 1.09, 95% CI = 0.76-1.56, fixed effects). A null association emerged when low was compared with normal birth weight for NHL plus Burkitt lymphoma (OR = 1.07, 95% CI = 0.71-1.62, random effects), HL (OR = 0.94, 95% CI = 0.54-1.65, fixed effects) or any plus Burkitt lymphoma (OR = 1.02, 95% CI = 0.79-1.33, fixed effects). Accordingly, no association was found when high or low birth weight was compared to any birth weight. Although current evidence suggests no association, birth weight might be a too crude indicator to reveal a genuine association of fetal growth with specific lymphoma categories; hence, there is an emerging need for use of more elaborate proxies, at least those accounting for gestational week.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Birth Weight*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Risk Factors