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AACR: ALL, Other Pediatric Cancers Linked to Air Pollution

Last Updated: April 09, 2013.

Increased exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life is associated with an increased risk of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, germ cell tumors, and retinoblastoma, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held April 4 to 10 in Washington, D.C.

TUESDAY, April 9 (HealthDay News) -- Increased exposure to air pollution during pregnancy and the first year of life is associated with an increased risk of pediatric acute lymphoblastic leukemia, germ cell tumors, and retinoblastoma, according to a study presented at the annual meeting of the American Association for Cancer Research, held April 4 to 10 in Washington, D.C.

Julia Heck, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of California Los Angeles, and colleagues examined the correlation between childhood cancer and traffic-related air pollution exposure in pregnancy and early life. Cases included 3,590 children younger than 6, identified from the California cancer registry, who were matched to 80,224 control children selected at random from California birth rolls. Local traffic exposure during each trimester of pregnancy and during the first year of life was estimated using the California Line Source Dispersion Modeling, version 4 (CALINE4).

The researchers found that there were increases in the risk of acute lymphoblastic leukemia, germ cell tumors, and retinoblastoma, particularly bilateral retinoblastoma, seen with each inter-quartile range increase in exposure to traffic-related pollution from CALINE4 (odds ratios with one inter-quartile increase, 1.04, 1.17, 1.14, and 1.19, respectively). Across trimesters and the first year of life, CALINE4 estimates were highly correlated.

"This is the first study that's ever been reported on air pollution as it relates to rarer pediatric cancers, so it needs to be replicated in other states or in other countries," Heck said in a statement. "It would be interesting to determine if there are specific pollutants like benzene or polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that are driving these associations."

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