Advanced parental age has been associated with adverse health effects in the offspring including childhood (0-14 years) acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), as reported in our meta-analysis of published studies. We aimed to further explore the association using primary data from 16 studies participating in the Childhood Leukemia International Consortium. Data were contributed by 11 case-control (CC) studies (7919 cases and 12,942 controls recruited via interviews) and five nested case-control (NCC) studies (8801 cases and 29,690 controls identified through record linkage of population-based health registries) with variable enrollment periods (1968-2015). Five-year paternal and maternal age increments were introduced in two meta-analyses by study design using adjusted odds ratios (OR) derived from each study. Increased paternal age was associated with greater ALL risk in the offspring (ORCC 1.05, 95% CI 1.00-1.11; ORNCC 1.04, 95% CI 1.01-1.07). A similar positive association with advanced maternal age was observed only in the NCC results (ORCC 0.99, 95% CI 0.91-1.07, heterogeneity I2 = 58%, p = 0.002; ORNCC 1.05, 95% CI 1.01-1.08). The positive association between parental age and risk of ALL was most marked among children aged 1-5 years and remained unchanged following mutual adjustment for the collinear effect of the paternal and maternal age variables; analyses of the relatively small numbers of discordant paternal-maternal age pairs were not fully enlightening. Our results strengthen the evidence that advanced parental age is associated with increased childhood ALL risk; collinearity of maternal with paternal age complicates causal interpretation. Employing datasets with cytogenetic information may further elucidate involvement of each parental component and clarify underlying mechanisms.
Keywords: Acute lymphoblastic leukemia; Case–control; Childhood; Maternal age; Paternal age; Risk factors.