To investigate whether parents of children with congenital malformations more often developed cancer after birth of the child, a population-based case-control study in Denmark was undertaken. By linking the Cancer Registry with the Central Population Registry, we identified 8783 cancer patients having their first child born between 1977 and 1995 before the cancer was diagnosed. Parents of 41 206 firstborn children of a 10% random sample of newborns from the Birth Registry between 1980 and 1995 were identified as controls. We obtained malformation diagnoses of children of cases and controls by linking to the Hospital Discharge Registry. We estimated the association between malformation and cancer by using logistic regression, adjusting for maternal age at birth and sex of child. We found no increased risk of cancer in parents having children with malformations in general, but a higher cancer risk in parents of children born with cleft lip/palate, odds ratio (OR) for all cancer=1.8 (95% confidence interval 1.0–3.2), OR for lymphomas=4.2 (1.3–13.5) and OR for leukaemia=8.1 (2.0–33.7). This association was not restricted to cancer cases diagnosed shortly after birth of the child. Our results suggest a common genetic association between these diseases, but further studies are needed
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