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Race/ethnicity and the risk of childhood leukaemia: a case–control study in California
  1. Sona Oksuzyan1,
  2. Catherine M Crespi2,
  3. Myles Cockburn3,
  4. Gabor Mezei4,
  5. Ximena Vergara5,
  6. Leeka Kheifets1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2Department of Biostatistics, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health, Los Angeles, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Preventive Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  4. 4Department of Epidemiology and Computational Biology, Exponent Engineering and Scientific Consulting, Menlo Park, California, USA
  5. 5Environment Department, Electric Power Research Institute, Palo Alto, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Sona Oksuzyan, University of California, Los Angeles, Semel Institute, Centre for Community Health, 10920 Wilshire Blvd., Suite 350, Los Angeles, CA 90024, USA; soksuzyan{at}


Background We conducted a large registry-based study in California to investigate the association between race/ethnicity and childhood leukaemia focusing on two subtypes: acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL) and acute myeloid leukaemia (AML).

Methods We obtained information on 5788 cases and 5788 controls by linking California cancer and birth registries. We evaluated relative risk of childhood leukaemia by race and ethnicity of the child and their parents using conditional logistic regression, with adjustment for potential confounders.

Results Compared with Whites, Black children had lower risk of ALL (OR=0.54, 95% CI 0.45 to 0.66) as well as children of Black/Asian parents (OR=0.31, 95% CI 0.10 to 0.94). Asian race was associated with increased risk of AML with OR=1.643, 95% CI 1.10 to 2.46 for Asian vs Whites; and OR=1.67, 95% CI 1.04 to 2.70 for Asian/Asian vs White/White. Hispanic ethnicity was associated with increased risk of ALL (OR=1.37, 95% CI 1.22 to 1.52). A gradient in risk of ALL was observed while comparing Hispanic children with both parents Hispanic, one parent Hispanic and non-Hispanic children (p Value for trend <0.0001). The highest risk of ALL was observed for children with a combination of Hispanic ethnicity and White race compared with non-Hispanic whites (OR=1.27, 95% CI 1.12 to 1.44). The lowest risk was observed for non-Hispanic blacks (OR=0.46, 95% CI 0.36 to 0.60). Associations for total childhood leukaemia were similar to ALL.

Conclusions Our results confirm that there are ethnic and racial differences in the incidence of childhood leukaemia. These differences indicate that some genetic and/or environmental/cultural factors are involved in aetiology of childhood leukaemia.


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