Breast-feeding duration and the risk of malignant diseases in childhood in Sweden


Objective: To evaluate childhood cancer in relation to duration of breast-feeding.

Setting: Sweden. Records from Child Healthcare Centres were scrutinised regarding information on breast-feeding and other health-related items.

Subjects: All children aged 0–14 y with a malignant disease (benign brain tumours included) during the time period 1988–91 (n=962) were identified from the Swedish Cancer Register. An equal number of controls matched for sex and age were selected from the Swedish Birth Register.

Results: Information was obtained for 835 cases and 860 controls. Overall, duration of breast-feeding did not influence the risk for a malignant disease in this age group. However, breast-feeding ≥1 month increased the risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma (NHL) yielding an odds ratio (OR) 5.5 with 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.2–25. Breast-feeding 1–<6 months gave OR 5.1, CI 1.1–24 and ≥6 months gave OR 7.0, CI 1.3–37 with a significant trend (P=0.04). Adjustment for maternal and birth-related co-variates gave similar results. For other malignancies no significant changes of the risk were obtained.

Conclusions: Overall, no association between duration of breast-feeding and childhood malignancies was found except for a significantly increased risk for NHL, but this was based on low numbers of cases and needs to be confirmed in other investigations.

Sponsorship: Supported by grants from the Swedish Cancer Fund and Örebro County Council Research Committee.

European Journal of Clinical Nutrition (2001) 55, 179–185

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Guarantor: L Hardell.

Contributors: Both investigators contributed to the design of the study, data collection, analysis, interpretation of the data, drafting and reviewing of all versions of the paper. ACD assessed data from the medical records. The study is part of her PhD thesis.

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Correspondence to L Hardell.

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Hardell, L., Dreifaldt, A. Breast-feeding duration and the risk of malignant diseases in childhood in Sweden. Eur J Clin Nutr 55, 179–185 (2001).

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  • breast-feeding
  • persistent organic pollutants
  • childhood malignancies
  • non-Hodgkin's lymphoma

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