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Maternal anemia and childhood cancer: a population-based case-control study in Denmark.

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The data associated with this publication are not available for this reason: The datasets analyzed in the current study are subject to the General Data Protection Regulation, with restrictions on data sharing in place

Childhood cancer risk is associated with maternal health during pregnancy. Anemia in pregnancy is a common condition, especially in low-income countries, but a possible association between maternal anemia and childhood cancer has not been widely studied.

We examined the relation in a population-based study in Denmark (N = 6420 cancer cases, 160,485 controls). Cases were taken from the Danish Cancer Registry, and controls were selected from national records. We obtained maternal anemia diagnoses from the National Patient and Medical Births registries. In a separate analysis within the years available (births 1995-2014), we examined cancer risks among mothers taking prescribed vitamin supplements, using data from the National Prescription Register. We estimated the risks of childhood cancer using conditional logistic regression.

The risks of neuroblastoma [odds ratio (OR= 1.83, 95% confidence interval (CI): 1.04, 3.22] and acute lymphoblastic leukemia (OR= 1.46, 95% CI 1.09, 1.97) were increased in children born to mothers with anemia in pregnancy. There was a two-fold increased risk for bone tumors (OR= 2.59, 95% CI: 1.42, 4.72), particularly osteosarcoma (OR= 3.54, 95% CI 1.60, 7.82). With regards to prescribed supplement use, mothers prescribed supplements for B12 and folate deficiency anemia (OR= 4.03, 95% CI 1.91, 8.50) had an increased risk for cancer in offspring.

Our results suggest that screening for anemia in pregnancy and vitamin supplementation may be an actionable strategy to prevent some cases of childhood cancer.

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