European Journal of Pediatrics

, Volume 166, Issue 5, pp 433–441 | Cite as

Medication use during pregnancy and the risk of childhood cancer in the offspring

  • Joachim Schüz
  • Thomas Weihkopf
  • Peter KaatschEmail author
Original Paper


The young age at onset of many cancers in childhood has led to investigations on maternal exposures during pregnancy. Data from a population-based case-control study in Germany (1992–1997) that included 1,867 cases and 2,057 controls was used to investigate this question. Maternal use of vitamin, folate or iron supplementation was associated with a reduced risk of non-Hodgkin lymphoma and tumors and, less clearly, with leukemia, but not with CNS tumors. An increased risk of neuroblastoma was associated most markedly with diuretics and other antihypertensives, but also with vitamin, folate or iron supplementation. No associations were seen with pain relievers, antinauseants or cold medications, nor with delivery by Caesarian section. The strengths of this study are its population base, the large number of cases and the inclusion of different case groups to identify disease specificity of associations. The limitation of this study is an exposure assessment relying on maternal self-reports. In conclusion, these data indicate a potential influence of some maternal medication during pregnancy on the risk of childhood cancer in the offspring; however, no clear picture is seen.


Child Leukemia Neoplasms Pregnancy Medication 



acute lymphoblastic leukemia


acute myeloblastic leukemia


central nervous system


non-Hodgkin lymphoma


odds ratio


confidence interval


socioeconomic status



We would especially like to thank Dr. Ina Reiß for her skillful work on the data set and for the preparation of preliminary analyses. We would like to thank Monika Decher-Neff and Ilona Kerenyi for their assistance in coding the medications. We would also like to thank Drs. Rolf Meinert, Uwe Kaletsch and Jörg Michaelis for their work during the conducting of the original study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joachim Schüz
    • 1
    • 2
  • Thomas Weihkopf
    • 1
  • Peter Kaatsch
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Institute of Medical Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Informatics (IMBEI)Johannes Gutenberg-University of MainzMainzGermany
  2. 2.Institute of Cancer EpidemiologyDanish Cancer SocietyCopenhagenDenmark

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