Perinatal and familial risk factors for brain tumors in childhood through young adulthood

Casey Crump, Jan Sundquist, Weiva Sieh, Marilyn A. Winkleby, Kristina Sundquist

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Perinatal factors, including high birth weight, have been associated with childhood brain tumors in case-control studies. However, the specific contributions of gestational age and fetal growth remain unknown, and these issues have never been examined in large cohort studies with follow-up into adulthood. We conducted a national cohort study of 3,571,574 persons born in Sweden in 1973-2008, followed up for brain tumor incidence through 2010 (maximum age 38 years) to examine perinatal and familial risk factors. There were 2,809 brain tumors in 69.7 million person-years of follow-up. After adjusting for potential confounders, significant risk factors for brain tumors included high fetal growth [incidence rate ratio (IRR) per additional 1 SD, 1.04; 95% confidence interval (CI), 1.01-1.08, P = 0.02], first-degree family history of a brain tumor (IRR, 2.43; 95% CI, 1.86-3.18, P < 0.001), parental country of birth (IRR for both parents born in Sweden vs. other countries, 1.21; 95% CI, 1.09-1.35, P < 0.001), and high maternal education level (Ptrend = 0.01). These risk factors did not vary by age at diagnosis. The association with high fetal growth appeared to involve pilocytic astrocytomas, but not other astrocytomas, medulloblastomas, or ependymomas. Gestational age at birth, birth order, multiple birth, and parental age were not associated with brain tumors. In this large cohort study, high fetal growth was associated with an increased risk of brain tumors (particularly pilocytic astrocytomas) independently of gestational age, not only in childhood but also into young adulthood, suggesting that growth factor pathways may play an important long-term role in the etiology of certain brain tumor subtypes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)576-583
Number of pages8
JournalCancer Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1 Feb 2015
Externally publishedYes


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