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Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Exposure to Pesticides

Soldin, Offie P PhD, MBA*†‡§; Nsouly-Maktabi, Hala PhD; Genkinger, Jeanine M PhD*; Loffredo, Christopher A PhD*; Ortega-Garcia, Juan Antonio MD; Colantino, Drew MBA*; Barr, Dana B PhD; Luban, Naomi L MD**; Shad, Aziza T MD*; Nelson, David MD, MPH††

doi: 10.1097/FTD.0b013e3181aae982
Original Article

Organophosphates are pesticides ubiquitous in the environment and have been hypothesized as one of the risk factors for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL). In this study, we evaluated the associations of pesticide exposure in a residential environment with the risk for pediatric ALL. This is a case-control study of children newly diagnosed with ALL, and their mothers (n = 41 child-mother pairs) recruited from Georgetown University Medical Center and Children's National Medical Center in Washington, DC, between January 2005 and January 2008. Cases and controls were matched for age, sex, and county of residence. Environmental exposures were determined by questionnaire and by urinalysis of pesticide metabolites using isotope dilution gas chromatography-high-resolution mass spectrometry. We found that more case mothers (33%) than controls (14%) reported using insecticides in the home (P < 0.02). Other environmental exposures to toxic substances were not significantly associated with the risk of ALL. Pesticide levels were higher in cases than in controls (P < 0.05). Statistically significant differences were found between children with ALL and controls for the organophosphate metabolites diethylthiophosphate (P < 0.03) and diethyldithiophosphate (P < 0.05). The association of ALL risk with pesticide exposure merits further studies to confirm the association.

From the *Department of Oncology; †Departments of Medicine; ‡Physiology and Biophysics; §Biostatistics, Bioinformatics and Biomathematics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia; ¶Paediatric Environmental Health Specialty Unit, Translational Cancer Research Center, University Hospital Virgin of Arrixaca, Murcia, Spain; ‖Division of Laboratory Sciences, National Center for Environmental Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia; **Children's National Medical Center, The George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia; and ††Department of Pediatrics, Georgetown University Medical Center, Washington, District of Columbia.

Received for publication February 26, 2009; accepted April 21, 2009.

Supported by a Cancer Center Support Grant awarded by the National Cancer Institute to the Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, Georgetown University Medical Center (O. P. Soldin). Dr. O. P. Soldin is partially supported by 5U10HD047890-03 NIH/NICHD Obstetrics Pharmacology Research Unit and by the Office of Research on Women's Health.

The authors declare that they have no competing financial interests.

Correspondence: Dr. Offie P. Soldin, PhD, MBA, Associate Professor of Oncology and Medicine, Lombardi Comprehensive Cancer Center, LL S-166, Georgetown University Medical Center, 3800 Reservoir Rd, NW, Washington, DC 20057 (e-mail:

Pediatric Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia and Exposure to Pesticides: Erratum

In this article on page 495 of the August 2009 issue, an author's name was misspelled. The author's name should have appeared as Hala Nsouli-Maktabi, PhD.

© 2009 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.