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Parental occupational exposures and the risk of childhood sporadic retinoblastoma: a report from the Children’s Oncology Group
  1. Negar Omidakhsh1,
  2. Greta R Bunin2,
  3. Arupa Ganguly3,
  4. Beate Ritz1,
  5. Nola Kennedy4,
  6. Ondine S von Ehrenstein1,5,
  7. Niklas Krause1,6,
  8. Julia E Heck1
  1. 1 Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  2. 2 Division of Oncology and Center for Childhood Cancer Research, Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  3. 3 Department of Genetics, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
  4. 4 Department of Environmental and Occupational Health, California State University, Northridge, California, USA
  5. 5 Department of Community Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  6. 6 Department of Environmental Health Sciences, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Julia E Heck, Department of Epidemiology, Fielding School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772, USA; jeheck{at}


Objectives We examined associations between parental occupational chemical exposures up to 10 years before conception and the risk of sporadic retinoblastoma among offspring.

Methods In our multicentre study on non-familial retinoblastoma, parents of 187 unilateral and 95 bilateral cases and 155 friend controls were interviewed by telephone. Exposure information was collected retroactively through a detailed occupational questionnaire that asked fathers to report every job held in the 10 years before conception, and mothers 1 month before and during the index pregnancy. An industrial hygienist reviewed all occupational data and assigned an overall exposure score to each job indicating the presence of nine hazardous agents.

Results We estimated elevated ORs for unilateral and bilateral retinoblastoma among offspring of fathers who were exposed to polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons or paints in the 10 years before conception. However, only for exposure to paints did confidence limits exclude the null for bilateral disease (OR: 8.76, 95% CI: 1.32 to 58.09). Maternal prenatal exposure to at least one of the nine agents was related to increased risk of unilateral disease in their children (OR: 5.25, 95% CI: 1.14 to 24.16). Fathers exposed to at least one of the nine agents and who were ≥30 years of age were at increased risk of having a child diagnosed with bilateral retinoblastoma (OR: 6.59, 95% CI: 1.34 to 32.42).

Conclusions Our results suggest a role for several hazardous occupational exposures in the development of childhood retinoblastoma.

  • retinoblastoma
  • childhood cancer

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  • Contributors NO was responsible for the data analyses and writing of the present manuscript. GRB and AG were involved in the original REACH study conception, design and data collection. They provided valuable input and guidance throughout this study. BR and JH (the study’s principle investigator) were the senior epidemiologists for this study and were involved in the conception, analyses and interpretation of this study. NK was the industrial hygienist for this study and helped to write and review the methods section of this manuscript. OSV and NK reviewed this manuscript during its early stages and provided valuable advice for further analyses, discussion points and interpretations.

  • Funding This work was supported in part by grants from NIH/NCI (RO1 - CA118580), NIH/NIEHS (R03ES021643, R21ES019986) and ARRA supplement (CA-118580-03S1). NO was supported by the Pilot Project Research Training Program of the Southern California NIOSH Education and Research Center, Grant Agreement Number T42OH008412 from the CDC. Its contents are solely the responsibility of the authors and do not necessarily represent the official view of the CDC. NO was also supported by a grant from the Jonsson Cancer Center Foundation/UCLA. The funders had no role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish or preparation of the manuscript.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Ethics approval IRB of the University of Pennsylvania, The Wills Eye Institute and every participating Children’s Oncology Group institution. For the retrospective data analyses of this study, IRB approval was obtained from the University of California, Los Angeles.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.