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Abstract

A population-based case-control interview study of 309 childhood leukemia cases and 618 healthy population control children was conducted in urban Shanghai, China. Like some studies in other countries, excess risks for both acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL) and acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (ANLL) were associated with intrauterine and paternal preconception diagnostic x-ray exposure, and with maternal employment in the chemical and agricultural industries during pregnancy. ANLL was linked to maternal occupational exposure to benzene during pregnancy, whereas both ALL and ANLL were significantly associated with maternal exposure to gasoline and the patient's prior use of chloramphenicol. New findings, previously unsuspected, included an association of ANLL with younger maternal age at menarche (odds ratio [OR] = 4.3; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 1.3–13.9); a protective effect for long-term (>1 year) use of cod liver oil containing vitamins A and D for both ALL (OR = 0.4; 95% CI = 0.2–0.9) and ANLL (OR = 0.3; 95% CI = 0.1–1.0); and excess risks of ANLL among children whose mothers were employed in metal refining and processing (OR = 4.6; 95% CI = 1.3–17.2) and of ALL associated with maternal occupational exposure to pesticides (OR = 3.5; 95% CI = 1.1–11.2). No relationships were found with late maternal age, certain congenital disorders, or familial occurrence, which have been related to childhood leukemia in other studies. In contrast with other reports, an excess of leukemia, primarily ANLL, occurred among second or later-born rather than firstborn children.