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Day Care In Infancy And Risk Of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia: Findings From Uk Case-Control Study

C. Gilham, J. Peto, J. Simpson, E. Roman, T. O. B. Eden, M. F. Greaves and F. E. Alexander
BMJ: British Medical Journal
Vol. 330, No. 7503 (Jun. 4, 2005), pp. 1294-1297
Published by: BMJ
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25459834
Page Count: 4
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Day Care In Infancy And Risk Of Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukaemia: Findings From Uk Case-Control Study
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Abstract

Objective To test the hypothesis that reduced exposure to common infections in the first year of life increases the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia. Design and setting The United Kingdom childhood cancer study (UKCCS) is a large population based case-control study of childhood cancer across 10 regions of the UK. Participants 6305 children (aged 2-14 years) without cancer; 3140 children with cancer (diagnosed 1991-6), of whom 1286 had acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL). Main outcome measure Day care and social activity during the first year of life were used as proxies for potential exposure to infection in infancy. Results Increasing levels of social activity were associated with consistent reductions in risk of ALL; a dose-response trend was seen. When children whose mothers reported no regular activity outside the family were used as the reference group, odds ratios for increasing levels of activity were 0.73 (95% confidence interval 0.62 to 0.87) for any social activity, 0.62 (0.51 to 0.75) for regular day care outside the home, and 0.48 (0.37 to 0.62) for formal day care (attendance at facility with at least four children at least twice a week) (P value for trend <0.001). Although not as striking, results for non-ALL malignancies showed a similar pattern (P value for trend <0.001). When children with non-ALL malignancies were taken as the reference group, a significant protective effect for ALL was seen only for formal day care (odds ratio=0.69, 0.51 to 0.93; P=0.02). Similar results were obtained for B cell precursor common ALL and other subgroups, as well as for cases diagnosed above and below age 5 years. Conclusion These results support the hypothesis that reduced exposure to infection in the first few months of life increases the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia.

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