Allergy and Risk of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: A Population-based and Record-based Study

American journal of epidemiology (Impact Factor: 5.23). 11/2012; 176(11). DOI: 10.1093/aje/kws263
Source: PubMed


A deficit of normal immune stimulation in early childhood is a suspected risk factor for both childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and allergies. The present study utilized a population-based case-control design using medical claims data from the National Health Insurance Research Database of Taiwan to evaluate the association between allergy and childhood leukemia. Eight hundred forty-six childhood ALL patients who were newly diagnosed during 2000 to 2008 and were older than 1 but less than 10 years of age were individually matched with 3,374 controls based on sex, birth date, and time of diagnosis (reference date for the controls). Conditional logistic regression was performed to assess the association between childhood ALL and allergies. An increased risk of ALL was observed with having an allergy less than 1 year before the case's ALL diagnosis (odds ratio (OR) = 1.7, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.5, 2.0), more than 1 year before the case's diagnosis (OR = 1.3, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.5), and before the age of 1 year (OR = 1.4, 95% CI: 1.1, 1.7). These results suggest that the pathogenesis of childhood ALL and allergy share a common biologic mechanism.

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    • "One factor that may have contributed to these differing results was the age of the studied population. Spector et al (2004) investigated children younger than 6 years old, and Chang et al (2012) included children between 1 and 10 years old; both of these study populations were younger than those of other studies. Another factor was the different definitions of skin manifestations of atopy. "
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    ABSTRACT: Previous epidemiologic studies have shown an inverse association between a personal history of atopy/allergies, both overall and among asthma, eczema, and hay fever investigated separately, and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) with some consistency; however, in most of these studies, exposure data were collected by maternal interview. Now, in a population-based and records-based study in this issue of the Journal (Am J Epidemiol. 2012;176(11):970–978), Chang et al. report an increased risk for allergic conditions across different etiologic time periods, calling the former paradigm into doubt. A review of the basic biology literature shows that proposed mechanisms support either a positive or an inverse association. In light of this ambiguity, it is epidemiology's turn to determine the direction of association.
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