Refuelling of vehicles, the use of wood burners and the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukaemia in childhood

Paediatr Perinat Epidemiol. 2011 Nov;25(6):528-39. doi: 10.1111/j.1365-3016.2011.01224.x. Epub 2011 Aug 16.


It is plausible that exposure of the parents before birth or of the child to sources of benzene increases the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). The aim of this analysis was to investigate whether refuelling a vehicle with petrol before birth or burning wood to heat the home before or after the child's birth increased the risk of childhood ALL. Data from 389 cases and 876 frequency-matched controls were analysed using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for study matching factors and potential confounders. The odds ratio (OR) for the mother ever refuelling a vehicle with petrol for non-occupational purposes before or during the pregnancy was 0.97 [95% confidence interval (CI) 0.69, 1.38]. The OR for the father for this exposure in the year before conception was 0.88 [95% CI 0.52, 1.48]. The OR for use of a closed wood burner to heat the home in the year before or during pregnancy was 1.41 [95% CI 1.02, 1.94] and 1.25 [95% CI 0.92, 1.70] after birth. We found no evidence that non-occupational refuelling a vehicle with petrol in the year before or during pregnancy increased the risk of ALL in the offspring. There was weak evidence that burning wood in a closed burner to heat the home increased the risk, but there was no dose-response relationship and chance could explain the finding.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Air Pollution, Indoor / adverse effects*
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Gasoline / adverse effects*
  • Heating / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / epidemiology
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects / etiology*
  • Risk Factors
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wood


  • Gasoline
  • Smoke