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Parents who smoke may raise child's leukemia risk

Written by: Staff
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NEW YORK, June 29 (Reuters) The risk of leukemia in childhood appears to be increased when fathers smoke, even if the smoking occurs before conception, and with exposure to smoking after birth, researchers report in the American Journal of Epidemiology.

Dr Jeffrey S Chang of the University of California, Berkeley and colleagues note that cigarette smoking has been linked to leukemia in adults, but the association in children has remained unclear.

To investigate further, the researchers conducted a study of 287 children with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), 46 with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) and 416 ''control'' children without leukemia.

Chang's group found that maternal smoking alone was not associated with an increased risk of either type of leukemia, but paternal smoking before conception increased the risk of AML by almost four times and a possible increased risk of ALL was suggested.

However, the investigators point out that the strong association with AML was based on data from only 16 cases and 8 controls.

The researchers also found that the risk of ALL was greater when paternal smoking before conception was combined with maternal smoking after birth and other passive smoking exposure.

The team notes that the public is aware of the detrimental effect of maternal smoking on the fetus. ''The knowledge of a potentially harmful effect of paternal smoking exposure,'' they conclude, ''may provide men with a stronger incentive to quit.'' Reuters SK VP0423

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