Parental Age and Childhood Lymphoma and Solid Tumor Risk: A Literature Review and Meta-Analysis

JNCI Cancer Spectr. 2022 May 2;6(3):pkac040. doi: 10.1093/jncics/pkac040.


Background: Although advanced parental age has been definitively linked to pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, studies of parental age and pediatric solid tumors have not reached firm conclusions. This analysis aimed to elucidate the relationship between parental age and pediatric solid tumors through meta-analysis of existing studies based in population registries.

Methods: We searched Medline (PubMed) and Embase for registry-based studies of parental age and solid tumors through March 2022. We performed random-effects meta-analysis to estimate pooled effects and 95% confidence intervals (CIs). All statistical tests were 2-sided.

Results: A total of 15 studies covering 10 childhood solid tumor types (30 323 cases and 3 499 934 controls) were included in this analysis. A 5-year increase in maternal age was associated with an increased risk of combined central nervous system tumors (odds ratio [OR] = 1.07, 95% CI = 1.04 to 1.10), ependymoma (OR = 1.19, 95% CI = 1.09 to 1.31), astrocytoma (OR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.05 to 1.15), rhabdomyosarcoma (OR = 1.14, 95% CI = 1.03 to 1.25), and germ cell tumors (OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.12). A 5-year increase in paternal age was associated with an increased risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma (OR = 1.06, 95% CI = 1.00 to 1.12).

Conclusions: This meta-analysis of registry-based analyses of parental age and childhood cancer supports the association between older maternal age and certain childhood solid cancers. There is also some evidence that paternal age may be associated with certain cancers such as non-Hodgkin lymphoma. However, as maternal and paternal age are highly correlated, disentangling potential independent causal effects of either factor will require large studies with extensive data on potential confounders.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin* / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Maternal Age
  • Parents
  • Paternal Age
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma* / epidemiology