, Volume 22, Issue 8, pp 1197-1204
Date: 21 Jun 2011

Maternal exposure to household chemicals and risk of infant leukemia: a report from the Children’s Oncology Group

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Utilizing data from the largest study to date, we examined associations between maternal preconception/prenatal exposure to household chemicals and infant acute leukemia.


We present data from a Children’s Oncology Group case–control study of 443 infants (<1 year of age) diagnosed with acute leukemia [including acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukemia (AML)] between 1996 and 2006 and 324 population controls. Mothers recalled household chemical use 1 month before and throughout pregnancy. We used unconditional logistic regression adjusted for birth year, maternal age, and race/ethnicity to calculate odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs).


We did not find evidence for an association between infant leukemia and eight of nine chemical categories. However, exposure to petroleum products during pregnancy was associated with AML (OR = 2.54; 95% CI:1.40–4.62) and leukemia without mixed lineage leukemia (MLL) gene rearrangements (“MLL−”) (OR = 2.69; 95% CI: 1.47–4.93). No associations were observed for exposure in the month before pregnancy.


Gestational exposure to petroleum products was associated with infant leukemia, particularly AML, and MLL− cases. Benzene is implicated as a potential carcinogen within this exposure category, but a clear biological mechanism has yet to be elucidated.