Are children with birth defects at higher risk of childhood cancers?

School of Biological and Population Health Sciences, College of Public Health and Human Sciences, Oregon State University, Corvallis, 97331, USA.
American journal of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 4.98). 04/2012; 175(12):1217-24. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwr470
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Birth defects may influence the risk of childhood cancer development through a variety of mechanisms. The rarity of both birth defects and childhood cancers makes it challenging to study these associations, particularly for the very rare instances of each. To address this limitation, the authors conducted a record linkage-based cohort study among Texas children born between 1996 and 2005. Birth defects in the cohort were identified through the Texas Birth Defects Registry, and children who developed cancer were identified by using record linkage with Texas Cancer Registry data. Over 3 million birth records were included; 115,686 subjects had birth defects, and there were 2,351 cancer cases. Overall, children with a birth defect had a 3-fold increased risk of developing cancer (incidence rate ratio (IRR) = 3.05, 95% confidence interval (CI): 2.65, 3.50), with germ cell tumors (IRR = 5.19, 95% CI: 2.67, 9.41), retinoblastomas (IRR = 2.34, 95% CI: 1.21, 4.16), soft-tissue sarcomas (IRR = 2.12, 95% CI: 1.09, 3.79), and leukemias (IRR = 1.39, 95% CI: 1.09, 1.75) having statistically significant elevated point estimates. All birth defect groups except for musculoskeletal had increased cancer incidence. Untangling the strong relation between birth defects and childhood cancers could lead to a better understanding of the genetic and environmental factors that affect both conditions.

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