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Childhood Lukemia Linked to Insecticide Use

by aseligmann — last modified Jul 07, 2010 12:00 AM

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children. In a recent study, French scientists found that children with acute leukemia were more likely to have been exposed to household pesticides.

Leukemia is the most common cancer in children. In a recent study, French scientists found that children with acute leukemia were more likely to have been exposed to household pesticides.

At hospitals in four French cities, researchers compared two groups of children — 280 children who were recently diagnosed with acute leukemia and 288 children who were hospitalized mainly in orthopedic wards or emergency rooms. The two groups were similar in age, sex, ethnicity, and areas of residence.

Mothers were interviewed about pesticide use in and around their homes. Researchers found that different kinds of pesticide use were significantly associated with leukemia.

Insecticide use inside the home during both pregnancy and childhood increased the risk of childhood leukemia. In addition, exposure to garden insecticides during childhood -- and to a lesser extent, exposure to garden fungicides -- was another risk factor.

Mothers were also asked about cases of head lice on their children and whether they had treated the head lice with an insecticidal shampoo. Overall, using these shampoos was associated with childhood leukemia.

This study reinforces some other previous findings that have linked pesticide exposure to childhood leukemia. While clearly stating that no causal relationship had been established, the authors concluded that "it may be opportune to consider preventive action."

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REFERENCE: Menegaux, F et al. 2006. Household exposure to pesticides and risk of childhood acute leukaemia. Occupational and Environmental Medicine 63:131-134. doi: 10.1136/oem.2005.023036

NEWS STORY: Woznicki, K. 2006. Bug spray use linked to childhood leukemia. MedPage Today, January 17, 2006. http://www.medpagetoday.com/tbprint.cfm?tbid=2503