Journal Article

Birth Weight as a Risk Factor for Childhood Leukemia: A Meta-Analysis of 18 Epidemiologic Studies

Lisa Lyngsie Hjalgrim, Tine Westergaard, Klaus Rostgaard, Kjeld Schmiegelow, Mads Melbye, Henrik Hjalgrim and Eric A. Engels

in American Journal of Epidemiology

Published on behalf of Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Volume 158, issue 8, pages 724-735
Published in print October 2003 | ISSN: 0002-9262
Published online October 2003 | e-ISSN: 1476-6256 | DOI:
Birth Weight as a Risk Factor for Childhood Leukemia: A Meta-Analysis of 18 Epidemiologic Studies

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Evidence has emerged that childhood leukemia is initiated in utero. High birth weight is one of the few birth-related factors that has been associated with childhood leukemia, albeit not consistently. The authors conducted a meta-analysis of studies of the association between birth weight and childhood leukemia risk. Study-specific odds ratios for leukemia were calculated, using a cutoff at 4,000 g of birth weight. The authors also evaluated whether the association between birth weight and leukemia followed a log-linear dose-response-like pattern. They calculated summary estimates using weighted averages of study-specific odds ratios from dichotomous and trend analyses. Eighteen studies (published between 1962 and 2002) were included, encompassing 10,282 children with leukemia. Children weighing 4,000 g or more at birth were at higher risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia than children weighing less (odds ratio (OR) = 1.26, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.17, 1.37). Furthermore, data were consistent with a dose-response-like effect (OR = 1.14/1,000-g birth weight increase, 95% CI: 1.08, 1.20). Studies of acute myeloid leukemia indicated a similar increase in risk for children weighing 4,000 g or more at birth (OR = 1.27, 95% CI: 0.73, 2.20) and a dose-response-like effect (OR = 1.29/1,000 g, 95% CI: 0.80, 2.06), but results varied across studies. Our findings support a relation between birth weight and childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia risk and emphasize the need for additional studies of the biologic mechanisms underlying this association.

Keywords: birth weight; child; leukemia, lymphocytic, acute; meta-analysis; risk factors; Abbreviations: ALL, acute lymphoblastic leukemia; AML, acute myeloid leukemia; CI, confidence interval; IGF-I, insulin-like growth factor I; OR, odds ratio.

Journal Article.  7121 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Public Health and Epidemiology

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