Breastfeeding and nutrition to 2 years of age and risk of childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia and brain tumors

Kathryn R Greenop, Helen D Bailey, Margaret Miller, Rodney J Scott, John Attia, Lesley J Ashton, Peter Downie, Bruce K Armstrong, Elizabeth Milne

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23 Citations (Scopus)


Acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) and childhood brain tumors (CBT) are 2 of the most common forms of childhood cancer, but little is known of their etiology. In 2 nationwide case-control studies we investigated whether breastfeeding, age of food introduction, or early diet are associated with the risk of these cancers. Cases aged 0-14 years were identified from Australian pediatric oncology units between 2003 and 2007 (ALL) and 2005 and 2010 (CBT) and population-based controls through nationwide random-digit dialing. Mothers completed questionnaires giving details of infant feeding up to the age of 2 yr. Data from 322 ALL cases, 679 ALL controls, 299 CBT cases, and 733 CBT controls were analysed using unconditional logistic regression. Breastfeeding was associated with a reduced risk of ALL [odds ratio (OR) = 0.52, 95% confidence interval (CI): 0.32, 0.84), regardless of duration. Introduction of artificial formula within 14 days of birth was positively associated with ALL (OR = 1.57, 95% CI: 1.03, 2.37), as was exclusive formula feeding to 6 mo (OR = 1.81, 95% CI: 1.07, 3.05). No associations were seen between breastfeeding or formula use and risk of CBT. Our results suggest that breastfeeding and delayed introduction of artificial formula may reduce the risk of ALL but not CBT.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)431-441
Number of pages11
JournalNutrition and Cancer
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 3 Apr 2015
Externally publishedYes

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