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: 5.23). 04/2012; 175(12):1217-24. DOI: 10.1093/aje/kwr470
Source: PubMed


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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Available from: Susan E Carozza, Mar 07, 2014
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    ABSTRACT: Birth defects are an increasing health priority worldwide, and the subject of a major 2010 World Health Assembly Resolution. Excess cancer risk may be an added burden in this vulnerable group of children, but studies to date have provided inconsistent findings. This study assessed the risk for cancer in children and young adolescents with major birth defects. This retrospective, statewide, population-based, cohort study was conducted in three US states (Utah, Arizona, Iowa). A cohort of 44,151 children and young adolescents (0 through 14 years of age) with selected major, non-chromosomal birth defects or chromosomal anomalies was compared to a reference cohort of 147,940 children without birth defects randomly sampled from each state's births and frequency matched by year of birth. The primary outcome was rate of cancer prior to age 15 years, by type of cancer and type of birth defect. The incidence of cancer was increased 2.9-fold (95% CI, 2.3 to 3.7) in children with birth defects (123 cases of cancer) compared to the reference cohort; the incidence rates were 33.8 and 11.7 per 100,000 person-years, respectively. However, the excess risk varied markedly by type of birth defect. Increased risks were seen in children with microcephaly, cleft palate, and selected eye, cardiac, and renal defects. Cancer risk was not increased with many common birth defects, including hypospadias, cleft lip with or without cleft palate, or hydrocephalus. Children with some structural, non-chromosomal birth defects, but not others, have a moderately increased risk for childhood cancer. Information on such selective risk can promote more effective clinical evaluation, counseling, and research.
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