Insecticides & Childhood Leukemia

French research, published in the Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, has sounded a note of caution regarding the use of insecticides in the home, including the insecticidal shampoos for head lice.

Detailed investigation of the cases of 568 children, half of whom had been newly diagnosed with acute leukaemia, revealed a significant increase in the risk of developing this disease when mothers had used insecticides in the home while pregnant and long after the birth.

In the case of those who had used insecticidal shampoos for head lice, the risk was almost doubled and, where there had been exposure to garden insecticides and fungicides, the risk was more than doubled.

No single agent was identified in the study but, in view of the consistency of the results in this and previous studies, the researchers suggest that it may be opportune to consider preventive action.

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First Published June 2006

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