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The Older the Mother the Higher the Chances of Childhood Cancer: New Study Reveals
2017-07-20 09:30:00
Liza Tan

While the world is busy with advancements in technology, some children are fighting for their lives in some isolated wards in cancer centers around the world.As we grapple with this reality, researchers opined that it is high time the world look into the possible causes of cancer in children.And what they discovered came as a surprise to many; a mother’s age has a potentially significant contribution to the health of the child when cancer is the subject of interest.

According to research by Zuelma A Contreras, Johnni Hansen, Beate Ritz, Jorn Olsen, Fei Yu, Julia E Heck titled: PARENTAL AGE AND CHILDHOOD CANCER RISK: A DANISH POPULATION-BASED REGISTRY STUDY, we get to understand how the prevalence of cancer in children and its connection to the mother’s age.There are very few risk factors which have been accurately linked to child cancer, however, of these few factors, the advanced age of a mother has been shown to increase child cancer cases independently.

Cases of Cancer Statistics and Involved Risk Factors

It is reported that 1 in every 435 children under the age of 15 years is affected by childhood cancer.In the United States alone, the number of overall cases of cancer stands at 1.7 million according to Cell.org.

Several risk factors have been directly associated with childhood cancer.Among these we have; prenatal exposure to ionizing radiation, genetic syndromes, high birth weight and demographics.Nevertheless, the accumulated probabilities of these factors only contribute to a minor fraction of the cases of childhood cancer.

On the other hand, an advanced paternal age and advanced maternal age have a resounding association to many cases of childhood cancer.To be more specific, these two factors are a premonition to congenital syndromes which in clinically terms, appear as a predisposition to cancer.Because most childhood cancer cases are registered during or after pregnancy, several researches have being carried out to try and determine the relationship between the parents' age and childhood cancer cases.Although previous studies have produced somehow inconsistent results, these have been largely due to small sample sizes.Fortunately, a break through came as a result of two major studies carried out in Britain and Sweden.The study performed in Britain considered 10,162 cases of childhood cancer while the research in Sweden studied 7,844 cases.In both of these studies, older parental age increased risks of leukemia which is one of the many childhood cancer cases.

Study Objectives and Study Analysis

       

The study by Zuelma A Contreras, Johnni Hansen, Beate Ritz, Jorn Olsen, Fei Yu, Julia E Heck was carried out to prove beyond doubt on a larger scale that advanced parental age increased risks of childhood cancer.

Using cancer cases data derived from various medical institutions across some States in the United States, a team of researchers committed to draw a relationship between parent age and cancer in children.The information used contained the information about the parents and the infants as well.Using an unconditional logistic, the team was able to calculate the percentage confidence intervals and the odd ratios.In the study, PARENTAL AGE AND CHILDHOOD CANCER RISK: A DANISH POPULATION-BASED REGISTRY STUDY, the oldest as well as the youngest parents age were considered with a modification factor to take care of the variable ages.

The study analyzed the following types of cancer among the selected parents; childhood cancers overall, leukemia, CNS tumors, and combined embryonal tumors (neuroblastoma, intracranial tumors,  retinoblastoma, Wilms’ tumor, hepatoblastoma, rhabdomyosarcoma).

The research concluded that after a careful adjustment for covariates, the maternal age was associated with a linear increase in the risk of childhood cancers which was found to be an overall of 8% per 5-year increment.

Understanding the Breakdown of Results

From the study, we find that the observed positive linear trends for the 7/10 cancer groups in children were;

Leukemia which had an odds ratio of 1.08 per 5-year increase.The 95% confidence level for this particular cancer group in many children was recorded as ranging between 1.05 to 1.11.

Lymphoma cancer had an odds ratio and 95% confidence level range of 1.06 and 1.01-1.12 respectively.

CNS tumors with an OR and CL of 1.07 and 1.03-1.11 respectively.The other cancer groups that showed positive trends according to the objectives of the study were Wilm's tumor, neuroblastoma, soft tissues sarcomas and bone tumors.According to Zuelma A Contreras, no apparent risks related to hepatoblastoma, retinoblastoma or germ cell tumors appeared to vary linearly with an increase in the parent’s age.

Leukemia Cancer Menace

In many studies on the effect of a mother’s age on the risk of childhood cancer, leukemia has been found to be quite a constant mention in all these cases.In fact, according to George Marcoullis, MD, PhD who is an Associate Professor of Medicine, New York Medical College “Nearly, 2.5% of all new cases of cancers diagnosed each year in the United States of America is due to various forms of leukemia; approximately 10 new cases of leukemia are diagnosed annually per 100,000 Americans.In general 29,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in the entire USA population.”

The medical professor further explains that even though a mere 10% of Leukemia cases are found in children, this small percentage accounts for more than 30% of childhood cancer.The acute lymphoblastic leukemia and myelogenous leukemia account for 75% and 20% of all leukemia cancer in children. “Acute lymphoblastic leukemia occurs predominantly in young children as well as in older adults over the age of 65,” George Marcoullis stated.


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