Early Life Nutrition Factors and Risk of Acute Leukemia in Children: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

Nutrients. 2023 Aug 29;15(17):3775. doi: 10.3390/nu15173775.


Acute leukemia commonly occurs in young children with peak incidence at the age of 2-5 years. However, the etiology is still unclear and many preventable risk factors still deserve to be reviewed. The focus of this systematic review and meta-analysis is to summarize the evidence concerning early life nourishment (breastfeeding, early life diet), neonatal vitamin K administration and the risk of acute leukemia. All epidemiological studies published up to June 2023 and assessing diet-related risk factors for childhood acute leukemia were identified in two electronic databases (PubMed and Web of Science), with no limits on publication year or language. A total of 38 studies (37 case-control studies and 1 study with pooled analysis) were included. The published risk estimates were combined into a meta-analysis using the Generic Inverse Variance method. The current evidence shows that breastfeeding (yes vs. no) has a protective effect against acute lymphoblastic leukemia (odds ratio = 0.85; 95% CI, 0.76-0.94). Evidence related to the role of other studied factors (foods and supplements) is inconclusive. Further research into the potential role of diet in early life and the risk of acute leukemia is needed to develop prevention strategies at population level. Review Registration: PROSPERO registration no. CRD42019128937.

Keywords: breastfeeding; childhood acute leukemia; early child’s diet; vitamin K administration.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Breast Feeding
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Dietary Supplements
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / epidemiology
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute* / etiology
  • Nutritional Status