Medically diagnosed infections and risk of childhood leukaemia: a population-based case-control study

National Institute of Cancer Research, National Health Research Institutes, Tainan, Taiwan, ROC.
International Journal of Epidemiology (Impact Factor: 9.2). 07/2012; 41(4):1050-9. DOI: 10.1093/ije/dys113
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Previous studies on the association between childhood infections and childhood leukaemia have produced inconsistent results, likely due to the recall error/bias of infection data reported by the parents. The current study used a population-based and record-based case-control design to evaluate the association between childhood leukaemia and infections using the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan.
In all, 846 childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and 193 acute myeloid leukaemia (AML) patients newly diagnosed between 2000 and 2008, aged >1 and <10 years, were included. Up to four controls (3374 for ALL and 766 for AML) individually matched to each case on sex, birth date and time of diagnosis (reference date for the controls) were identified. Conditional logistic regression was performed to assess the association between childhood leukaemia and infections.
Having any infection before 1 year of age was associated with an increased risk for both childhood ALL (odds ratio = 3.2, 95% confidence interval 2.2-4.7) and AML (odds ratio = 6.0, 95% confidence interval 2.0-17.8), with a stronger risk associated with more episodes of infections. Similar results were observed for infections occurring >1 year before the cases' diagnosis of childhood leukaemia.
Children with leukaemia may have a dysregulated immune function present at an early age, resulting in more episodes of symptomatic infections compared with healthy controls. However, confounding by other infectious measures such as birth order and day care attendance could not be ruled out. Finally, the results are only relevant to the medically diagnosed infections.

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