Early-life exposures are believed to influence the incidence of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). Archived neonatal blood spots (NBS), collected within the first days of life, offer a means to investigate small molecules that reflect early-life exposures. Using untargeted metabolomics, we compared abundances of small-molecule features in extracts of NBS punches from 332 children that later developed ALL and 324 healthy controls. Subjects were stratified by early (1-5 y) and late (6-14 y) diagnosis. Mutually-exclusive sets of metabolic features - representing putative lipids and fatty acids - were associated with ALL, including 9 and 19 metabolites in the early- and late-diagnosis groups, respectively. In the late-diagnosis group, a prominent cluster of features with apparent 18:2 fatty-acid chains suggested that newborn exposure to the essential nutrient, linoleic acid, increased ALL risk. Interestingly, abundances of these putative 18:2 lipids were greater in infants who were fed formula rather than breast milk (colostrum) and increased with the mother's pre-pregnancy body mass index. These results suggest possible etiologic roles of newborn nutrition in late-diagnosis ALL.
Keywords: Breastfeeding; Lipids; Maternal BMI; Pre-B ALL; t(12;21) translocation.
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