The causes of autistic disorders (AD) are not known. Abnormalities of tumor suppressor genes have suggested that these genes may be important to the development of autism in some cases, and result in an increased risk of developing cancer or other neoplasms. We explore possible associations between AD and childhood cancer.
We reviewed our institutional pediatric cancer database for all new cancer diagnoses 1997–2007. Medical records from patients older than 2 years at last visit were reviewed for a diagnosis of AD. The prevalence of AD was estimated for neoplasms overall and for specific tumor types, and compared with that in the general pediatric population.
Of 702 eligible patients, 7 (1%; 95% CI: (0.4%, 2.04%)) were labeled as AD, not different than the prevalence of AD in North Carolina's general population (0.65%, P = 0.35). Cancer diagnoses for these 7 children were acute lymphoblastic leukemia (n = 1), acute nonlymphocytic leukemia (n = 2), non-Hodgkin lymphoma (n = 1), Hodgkin Disease (n = 1), brain tumor (n = 1), osteogenic sarcoma (n = 1).
These data do not suggest that there is a high concordance between AD and childhood cancer. However, studies of large rigorously characterized AD cohorts will be needed to definitively address this issue. Pediatr Blood Cancer 2010; 54:144–147. © 2009 Wiley-Liss, Inc.