London, Apr 29 : Kids attending day care or playgroups are at a lower risk of developing leukaemia, suggests a new study.
A review of 14 studies involving around 20,000 children has revealed that social interaction at an early age can cut the risk of developing acute lymphoblastic leukaemia (ALL), a common type of childhood leukaemia.
ALL accounts for more than 80 pct of leukaemia cases among children, and most often occurs in those aged between two and five.
It is normally believed that childhood leukaemia develops due to genetic mutations in the womb followed by an infection during childhood.
It is also believed that restricting several childhood infections that often spread through playgroups can prepare the immune system against leukaemia because if the immune system is not challenged in early life, this may increase the risk of an improper response to infections thereby boosting leukaemia risk.
The team from University of California, Berkeley has revealed that 12 of the studies suggested some defensive effect from social interaction.
"Combining the results from these studies together provided us with more confidence that the protective effect is real," BBC quoted Professor Patricia Buffler, lead researcher, as saying.
"These findings are important because this is the first time the results of all the relevant studies have been put together and it clearly shows that there is an effect here," said Edward Copisarow, of the charity Children with Leukaemia.
"This is the kind of research that brings us a step closer to understanding the causes of this complex disease and how we can prevent it," he added.
"The benefits of high-quality childcare for children's educational, social and behavioural outcomes is well known and this research is welcome evidence that early social experience may also have real benefits for children's health," said Emma Knights, of the Daycare Trust.