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Birth order and risk of childhood cancer in the Danish birth cohort of 1973–2010

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Author(s)

  • Joachim Schuz
  • George Luta
  • Friederike Erdmann
  • Gilles Ferro
  • Andrea Bautz
  • Sofie Bay Simony
  • Susanne Oksbjerg Dalton
  • Tracy Jayne Lightfoot
  • Jeanette Falck Winther

Department/unit(s)

Publication details

JournalCancer causes and control
DateAccepted/In press - 4 Aug 2015
DateE-pub ahead of print - 11 Aug 2015
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2015
Issue number11
Volume26
Pages (from-to)1575–1582
Early online date11/08/15
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

Purpose Many studies have investigated the possible association between birth order and risk of childhood cancer, although the evidence to date has been inconsistent. Birth order has been used as a marker for various in utero
or childhood exposures and is relatively straightforward to assess.

Methods Data were obtained on all children born in Denmark between 1973 and 2010, involving almost 2.5 million births and about 5,700 newly diagnosed childhood cancers before the age of 20 years. Data were analyzed
using Poisson regression models.

Results We failed to observe associations between birth order and risk of any childhood cancer subtype, including acute lymphoblastic leukemia; all rate ratios were close to one. Further analyses stratified by birth cohort (those born between 1973 and 1990, and those born between 1991 and 2010) also failed to show any associations. Considering stillbirths and/or controlling for birth weight and parental
age in the analyses had no effect on the results. Analyses by years of birth (those born between 1973 and 1990, and those born between 1991 and 2010) did not show any changes in the overall pattern of no association.

Conclusions In this large cohort of all children born in Denmark over an almost 40-year period, we did not observe an association between birth order and the risk of childhood cancer.

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