Papers And Originals

Association between Malignant Disease in Children and Maternal Virus Infections

Br Med J 1973; 1 doi: (Published 24 March 1973) Cite this as: Br Med J 1973;1:706
  1. J. F. Bithell,
  2. G. J. Draper,
  3. P. D. Gorbach


    The possibility of an association between virus infections during pregnancy and subsequent malignant disease in the child has been investigated using retrospective data from the Oxford Survey of Childhood Cancers. Such an association appears to exist for influenza, chickenpox, and possibly rubella. For influenza and rubella the estimated risk is small; the data do not permit an estimate to be made directly in the case of chickenpox. It is suggested that there may be a specific association between maternal chickenpox and tumours of the nervous system.

    It is important to emphasize that, even if the relative risk associated with these viruses is fairly large, the number of cases of childhood cancer and leukaemia actually attributable to them is probably very small.