Background: Medulloblastoma is one of the most common intracranial tumors in children. The perception that the incidence of this tumor has declined is reinforced by a decline in enrollment to international trials for the disease.
Methods: A retrospective population-based study of children younger than 15 years whose brain tumors were reviewed histopathologically was performed in the county of Avon, in the southwest region of England from 1976 to 1991. Then, the incidence of medulloblastoma was studied in the noncontiguous southwest and northern regions of England, with a combined childhood population base of 20.0 million child years for the period 1976-1991.
Results: In Avon, 16 children with medulloblastoma presented in the period 1976-1984 and 2 in the period 1985-1991, representing a decrease in incidence from 9.6 per million per year to 1.7 per million per year. The incidence of medulloblastoma in the combined southwest and northern regions showed a significant (P = 0.006) decline from 5.5 per million per year in the period 1976-1984 to 2.8 in the period 1985-1991. Considered individually, the decline in the southwest (from 6.2 per million per year to 2.8 per million per year) was significant but that in the Northern region (from 4.7 to 2.7) was not.
Conclusions: In this report, a decline in the incidence of medulloblastoma was shown. In a recent case control study, a protective effect of maternal folate, iron, and multivitamin supplementation against primitive neuroectodermal tumors, including medulloblastoma was found. The introduction of periconceptional multivitamin supplementation in the 1980s may have caused this significant decline in the incidence of medulloblastoma.