Research Article

Parental occupations of children with leukaemia in west Cumbria, north Humberside, and Gateshead.

BMJ 1991; 302 doi: (Published 23 March 1991) Cite this as: BMJ 1991;302:681
  1. P A McKinney,
  2. F E Alexander,
  3. R A Cartwright,
  4. L Parker
  1. Leukaemia Research Fund, University of Leeds.


    OBJECTIVE--To determine whether parental occupations and chemical and other specific exposures are risk factors for childhood leukaemia. DESIGN--Case-control study. Information on parents was obtained by home interview. SETTING--Three areas in north England: Copeland and South Lakeland (west Cumbria); Kingston upon Hull, Beverley, East Yorkshire, and Holderness (north Humberside), and Gateshead. SUBJECTS--109 children aged 0-14 born and diagnosed as having leukaemia or non-Hodgkin's lymphoma in study areas during 1974-88. Two controls matched for sex and date and district of birth were obtained for each child. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES--Occupations of parents and specific exposure of parents before the children's conception, during gestation, and after birth. Other adults living with the children were included in the postnatal analysis. RESULTS--Few risk factors were identified for mothers, although preconceptional association with the food industry was significantly increased in case mothers (odds ratio 2.56; 95% confidence interval 1.32 to 5.00). Significant associations were found between childhood leukaemia and reported preconceptional exposure of fathers to wood dust (2.73, 1.44 to 5.16), radiation (3.23, 1.36 to 7.72), and benzene (5.81, 1.67 to 26.44); ionising radiation alone gave an odds ratio of 2.35 (0.92 to 6.22). Raised odds ratios were found for paternal exposure during gestation, but no independent postnatal effect was evident. CONCLUSION--These results should be interpreted cautiously because of the small numbers, overlap with another study, and multiple exposure of some parents. It is important to distinguish periods of parental exposures; identified risk factors were almost exclusively restricted to the time before the child's birth.