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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    ABSTRACT: Background:Factors related to early stimulation of the immune system (breastfeeding, proxies for exposure to infectious agents, normal delivery, and exposure to animals in early life) have been suggested to decrease the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL).Methods:The national registry-based case-control study, ESTELLE, was carried out in France in 2010-2011. Population controls were frequency matched with cases on age and gender. The participation rates were 93% for cases and 86% for controls. Data were obtained from structured telephone questionnaires administered to mothers. Odds ratios (OR) were estimated using unconditional regression models adjusted for age, gender, and potential confounders.Results:In all, 617 ALL and 1225 controls aged ⩾1 year were included. Inverse associations between ALL and early common infections (OR=0.8, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.6, 1.0), non-first born (⩾3 vs 1; OR=0.7, 95% CI: 0.5, 1.0), attendance of a day-care centre before age 1 year (OR=0.7, 95% CI: 0.5, 1.0), breastfeeding (OR=0.8, 95% CI: 0.7, 1.0), and regular contact with pets (OR=0.8, 95% CI: 0.7, 1.0) in infancy were observed.Conclusions:The results support the hypothesis that conditions promoting the maturation of the immune system in infancy have a protective role with respect to ALL.British Journal of Cancer advance online publication, 12 February 2015; doi:10.1038/bjc.2015.53
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