Parental occupational/non-occupational exposures to environmental agents leading to genetic abnormalities

Research so far includes:

  • Pesticides [Daniels, 1997; Zahm & Ward, 1998; Van Maele-Fabry, Lantin, Hoet & Lison, 2010]
  • Carbon related jobs, e.g., paint, benzene, wood dust and radiation exposure [Kwa & Fine, 1980; Sanders, 1981; Arundel, 1986; Savitz & Chen, 1990; McKinney, 1991; Colt & Blair, 1998; Peters et al., 2013]
  • Recreational use of drugs, e.g., marijuana and cocaine [Tashkin, 2001; Hall & MacPhee, 2002]
  • Parental smoking and alcohol consumption [Milne et al., 2013]


Some studies report associations between childhood cancer and parental exposure to pesticides. These studies suggest an increase in risk of brain tumour, leukaemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, Wilm's tumour, and Ewing's sarcoma and germ cell tumours associated with parental occupational and non-occupational exposure to pesticides.

A systematic review and meta-analysis published in 2010 reported that no statistically significant association between childhood leukemia and parental occupation as farmers/agricultural workers was observed. However, significant increased risks were seen for paternal exposure.

Carbon related jobs

Associations between hydrocarbon related parental jobs and CNS tumours, and between paint, benzene, wood dust and radiation, diesel exhaust exposure of parents and leukaemias have also been reported.

Recreational use of drugs

Possible associations were reported between recreational use of drugs such as marijuana and cocaine, and leukaemia and lymphoma.

Smoking and Alcohol before pregnancy

It is reported that parental smoking before or during pregnancy showed no association with the risk of childhood brain tumors (CBT). Although tobacco increases the risk of several adult cancers, the cause of CBT remains largely unknown.

Further, there is no evidence that maternal alcohol use before or during pregnancy were associated with an increased risk of either cancer; rather, there was evidence of inverse associations, particularly with wine. For both cancers, negative associations were observed with paternal alcohol consumption in the year before the pregnancy, possibly driven by reduced risk at moderate levels of beer and wine intake and increased risk associated with high levels of beer intake. Moderate intake of spirits by fathers was associated with an increased risk of childhood brain tumors (CBT) but not acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL).