Risk of malignant childhood germ cell tumors in relation to demographic, gestational, and perinatal characteristics

Cancer Epidemiol. 2017 Feb:46:42-49. doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2016.12.002. Epub 2016 Dec 23.


Background: Childhood germ cell tumors (GCTs) are a rare assortment of neoplasms, with mostly unknown etiology, that are believed to originate very early in life. Few studies have examined risk factors by histologic subtype, despite evidence of different risk profiles.

Materials and methods: In this population-based case-control study, 451 childhood malignant GCT cases ages 0-5 years were identified from the California Cancer Registry. Differentiating between common histologic subtypes, we identified 181 yolk sac tumors, 216 teratomas, and 54 rarer subtypes. Cases were linked to their birth certificates and 271,381 controls, frequency matched by birth year, were randomly selected from California birthrolls to investigate the contributions of demographic, gestational, and pregnancy factors using unconditional logistic regression analysis.

Results: Compared to non-Hispanic whites, Asian/Pacific Islander children were at an increased risk for developing GCTs (odds ratio [OR]=1.94; 95% confidence interval [CI]=1.47, 2.56). Among pregnancy complications and procedures, yolk sac tumors were positively associated with the presence of fetopelvic disproportion (OR=2.97; 95% CI=1.55, 5.68), while teratomas were strongly associated with polyhydramnios or oligohydramnios (OR=14.76; 95% CI=7.21, 30.19) and the presence of an ear, face, or neck anomaly at birth (OR=93.70; 95% CI=42.14, 208.82).

Conclusions: Malignant yolk sac tumors and malignant teratomas exhibited distinct demographic and gestational characteristics; additionally, complications in pregnancy and labor may be brought on by specific histologic subtypes.

Keywords: Cancer; Childhood; Congenital malformation; Epidemiology; Germ cell tumor; Perinatal; Race; Risk factor; Teratoma; Yolk sac tumor.

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child, Preschool
  • Demography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / etiology*
  • Neoplasms, Germ Cell and Embryonal / pathology
  • Perinatal Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Risk Factors
  • Teratoma / etiology*
  • Teratoma / pathology