Childhood leukemia and parents' occupational and home exposures

J Natl Cancer Inst. 1987 Jul;79(1):39-46.


A case-control study of children of ages 10 years and under in Los Angeles County was conducted to investigate the causes of leukemia. The mothers and fathers of acute leukemia cases and their individually matched controls were interviewed regarding specific occupational and home exposures as well as other potential risk factors associated with leukemia. Analysis of the information from the 123 matched pairs showed an increased risk of leukemia for children whose fathers had occupational exposure after the birth of the child to chlorinated solvents [odds ratio (OR) = 3.5, P = .01], spray paint (OR = 2.0, P = .02), dyes or pigments (OR = 4.5, P = .03), methyl ethyl ketone (CAS: 78-93-3; OR = 3.0, P = .05), and cutting oil (OR = 1.7, P = .05) or whose fathers were exposed during the mother's pregnancy with the child to spray paint (OR = 2.2, P = .03). For all of these, the risk associated with frequent use was greater than for infrequent use. There was an increased risk of leukemia for the child if the father worked in industries manufacturing transportation equipment (mostly aircraft) (OR = 2.5, P = .03) or machinery (OR = 3.0, P = .02). An increased risk was found for children whose parents used pesticides in the home (OR = 3.8, P = .004) or garden (OR = 6.5, P = .007) or who burned incense in the home (OR = 2.7, P = .007). The risk was greater for frequent use. Risk of leukemia was related to mothers' employment in personal service industries (OR = 2.7, P = .04) but not to specified occupational exposures. Risk related to fathers' exposure to chlorinated solvents, employment in the transportation equipment-manufacturing industry, and parents' exposure to household or garden pesticides and incense remains statistically significant after adjusting for the other significant findings.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • California
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Environmental Exposure*
  • Epidemiologic Methods
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Parents*
  • Pregnancy
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects
  • Risk