Birth Characteristics and Childhood Leukemia Risk: Correlations With Genetic Markers

J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2015 Jul;37(5):e301-7. doi: 10.1097/MPH.0000000000000347.


Birth characteristics such as birth order, birth weight, birth defects, and Down syndrome showed some of the first risk associations with childhood leukemia. Examinations of correlations between birth characteristics and leukemia risk markers have been limited to birth weight-related genetic polymorphisms. We integrated information on nongenetic and genetic markers by evaluating the relationship of birth characteristics, genetic markers for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) susceptibility, and ALL risk together. The multiethnic study consisted of cases with childhood ALL (n=161) and healthy controls (n=261). Birth characteristic data were collected through questionnaires, and genotyping was achieved by TaqMan SNP Genotyping Assays. We observed risk associations for birth weight over 4000 g (odds ratios [OR]=1.93; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16-3.19), birth length (OR=1.18 per inch; 95% CI, 1.01-1.38), and with gestational age (OR=1.10 per week; 95% CI, 1.00-1.21). Only the HFE tag single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) rs9366637 showed an inverse correlation with a birth characteristic, gestational age, with a gene-dosage effect (P=0.005), and in interaction with a transferrin receptor rs3817672 genotype (Pinteraction=0.05). This correlation translated into a strong association for rs9366637 with preterm birth (OR=5.0; 95% CI, 1.19-20.9). Our study provides evidence for the involvement of prenatal events in the development of childhood ALL. The inverse correlation of rs9366637 with gestational age has implications on the design of HFE association studies in birth weight and childhood conditions using full-term newborns as controls.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers / genetics*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics*
  • Genotype
  • Gestational Age
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth / genetics
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Risk Factors


  • Genetic Markers
  • HFE protein, human
  • Hemochromatosis Protein
  • Histocompatibility Antigens Class I
  • Membrane Proteins