Exposure to professional pest control treatments and the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia

Authors

  • Helen D. Bailey,

    Corresponding author
    1. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
    • Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, PO BOX 855, WA 6872, Australia
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    • Tel.: +61 8 9489 7922, Fax: +61 8 9489 7700

  • Bruce K. Armstrong,

    1. Sydney School of Public Health, University of Sydney, Camperdown, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Nicholas H. de Klerk,

    1. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • Lin Fritschi,

    1. Western Australian Institute for Medical Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • John Attia,

    1. School of Medicine and Public Health, Centre for Clinical Epidemiology and Biostatistics, University of Newcastle, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
    2. Department of Medicine, John Hunter Hospital and Hunter Medical Research Institute, New Lambton, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Rodney J. Scott,

    1. Hunter Medical Research Institute, The School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health, University of Newcastle
    2. Hunter Area Pathology Service, HNEHealth, Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia
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  • Elizabeth Smibert,

    1. Children's Cancer Centre, Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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  • Elizabeth Milne,

    1. Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, Centre for Child Health Research, University of Western Australia, Perth, Western Australia, Australia
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  • for the Aus-ALL Consortium


  • The Aus-ALL consortium conducted the study and the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research (TICHR), University of Western Australia, was the coordinating centre. Bruce K. Armstrong (Sydney School of Public Health), Elizabeth Milne (TICHR), Frank M. van Bockxmeer (Royal Perth Hospital), Michelle Haber (Children's Cancer Institute Australia), Rodney J. Scott (University of Newcastle), John Attia (University of Newcastle), Murray D. Norris (Children's Cancer Institute Australia), Carol Bower (TICHR), Nicholas H. de Klerk (TICHR), Lin Fritschi (WA Institute for Medical Research), Ursula R. Kees (TICHR), Margaret Miller (Edith Cowan University), Judith R. Thompson (WA Cancer Registry) were the research investigators and Helen D. Bailey (TICHR) was the project coordinator. The clinical investigators were: Frank Alvaro (John Hunter Hospital, Newcastle); Catherine Cole (Princess Margaret Hospital for Children, Perth); Luciano Dalla Pozza (Children's Hospital at Westmead, Sydney); John Daubenton (Royal Hobart Hospital, Hobart); Peter Downie (Monash Medical Centre, Melbourne); Liane Lockwood, (Royal Children's Hospital, Brisbane); Maria Kirby (Women's and Children's Hospital, Adelaide); Glenn Marshall (Sydney Children's Hospital, Sydney); Elizabeth Smibert (Royal Children's Hospital, Melbourne); Ram Suppiah, (previously Mater Children's Hospital, Brisbane).

Abstract

Previous studies suggest that exposure to pesticides increases the risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). The aim of this analysis was to investigate whether professional pest treatments in or around the home before birth or during childhood increased the risk of childhood ALL. Data from 388 cases and 870 frequency-matched controls were analyzed using unconditional logistic regression, adjusting for study matching variables and potential confounders, to calculate odds ratios (ORs). A meta-analysis of our findings with the published findings of previous studies was also conducted. The ORs for any professional pest control treatments were 1.19 (95% CI 0.83, 1.69) in the year before pregnancy, 1.30 (95% CI 0.86, 1.97) during pregnancy and 1.24 (95% CI 0.93, 1.65) for those done after the child's birth. The ORs for exposure after birth were highest when it occurred between the ages of two and three years. ORs were elevated for termite treatments before birth. ORs were higher for pre-B than T cell ALL and for t(12;21) (ETV6-Runx-1) than other cytogenetic sub-types. The pooled OR from a meta-analysis of our study with three previous studies of professional pest control treatments during pregnancy was 1.37 (95% CI 1.00, 1.88). Our results, and those of our meta-analysis, provide some evidence of a modestly increased risk of ALL for professional pest control treatments done during the index pregnancy and possibly in the child's early years. The analysis of pooled data from international collaborations may provide more certainty regarding these potentially important associations.

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