Neuroblastoma (NB) is an embryonic tumor that occurs almost exclusively in infancy and early childhood. While considerable evidence suggests that it may be initiated during embryonic development, the etiology of NB is still unknown. The aim of this study was to explore whether there is an association between maternal use of household pesticides during pregnancy and the risk of NB in the offspring.
We conducted a pooled analysis of two French national-based case-control studies. The mothers of 357 NB cases and 1,783 controls younger than 6 years, frequency-matched by age and gender, responded to a telephone interview that focused on sociodemographic and perinatal characteristics, childhood environment, and life-style. Unconditional logistic regression was used to estimate pooled odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals.
After controlling for matching variables, study of origin, and potential confounders, the maternal use of any type of pesticide during pregnancy was associated with NB (OR 1.5 [95% CI 1.2-1.9]). The most commonly used type of pesticides were insecticides and there was a positive association with their use alone (OR 1.4 [95% CI 1.1-1.9]) or with other pesticides (OR 2.0 [95% CI 1.1-3.4]).
Although there is the potential for recall bias due to the study design, our findings add to the evidence of an association between the household use of pesticides and NB. Until a better study design can be found, our findings add yet another reason why to advise pregnant women to limit pesticide exposure during the periconceptional period.