Leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in children and young adults: are prenatal and neonatal factors important determinants of disease?

Br J Cancer. 1997;76(3):406-15. doi: 10.1038/bjc.1997.399.


A medical record-based study of leukaemia and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma diagnosed before the age of 30 years was carried out at three hospitals in the south of England. Findings for 177 cases and 354 age- and sex-matched controls are presented here. For documented viral infection in pregnancy, the odds ratio (OR) was 6.0 [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2-29.7] for leukaemia and infinity (95% CI 1.24-infinity) for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. Mothers of leukaemic cases were more likely to be anaemic, the OR for a pregnancy haemoglobin below 10 g being 3.8 (95% CI 1.3-11.1). An association with birthweight was found for acute myeloid leukaemia, the OR for birthweights > 3500 g being 6.2 (95% CI 1.3-29.8). Further, the preceding siblings of those diagnosed with any form of leukaemia were also more likely to weigh > 3500 g at birth (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.1-4.4). Overall, leukaemic cases appeared to be comparatively robust at birth with respect to other indicators of well-being, the ORs for jaundice, phototherapy, admission to special care nursery and neonatal intensive care all being less than 1.0. Further, no relation between childhood leukaemia and neonatal administration of intramuscular vitamin K was noted (OR 0.6, 95% CI 0.3-1.4; for acute lymphoblastic leukaemia diagnosed between the ages of 1 and 6 years).

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Birth Weight
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • England
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leukemia / etiology*
  • Lymphoma, Non-Hodgkin / etiology*
  • Maternal Age
  • Maternal-Fetal Exchange
  • Neonatology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Parity
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications
  • Vitamin K / administration & dosage


  • Vitamin K