Department of Global Public Health and Primary Care
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A connection between fetal growth and childhood cancer?

Does birth weight lead to an increased risk of childhood cancer? A recent article published in Pediatrics looks closer on the connection between fetal growth and childhood cancer.

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Fetal Growth and Childhood Cancer: A Population-Based Study

Tone Bjørge, Henrik Toft Sørensen, Tom Grotmol, Anders Engeland, Olof Stephansson, Mika Gissler, Steinar Tretli and Rebecca Troisi

Pediatrics 2013; 132; e l 1265; originally published online October 28, 2013; DOI:10:10.1542/peds.2013-1317


A search for an answer on the causes of childhood cancer

 The etiology of childhood cancers is largely unknown. In recent years there has been increasing interest in identifying etiologic factors that may act during the perinatal period. Tone Bjørge and her coauthors have in this recently published article turned their focus towards these factors, and looked closer at the connection between the risk of childhood cancers in relation to fetal growth.


A population based study

 This study was a population-based case-control study nested within national medical birth registries in Denmark, Finland, Norway and Sweden. The study included cancer cases diagnosed among children born during 1967-2010 and up to 10 matched controls per case, totaling 17 698 cases and 172 422 controls. Information from national hospital patient registries, when available, was used to supplement birth registry data. This study took advantage of the opportunity to cross-link population-based registries in the Nordic countries to explore associations between measures of fetal growth and childhood cancers.


Does increased birth weight increase the risk of childhood cancer?

This study showed that risks of several tumor types (connective/soft tissue tumors, ALL, Wilms tumors and brain tumors) increased with increased birth weight. An increased risk for brain tumors was also seen with increasing head circumference in children below one year at diagnosis. The biological mechanisms underlying the association between high birth weight and childhood cancer are not well established, but are likely to include growth factors. Biological mechanisms should be further explored to explain these associations.


 Read the full article in Pediatrics here: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/132/5/e1265.full.pdf+html