Smoking dads a leukaemia risk to unborn children

Researchers at Perth’s Telethon Institute for Child Health Research examined parental lifestyle factors relating to 388 cases of childhood ALL, along with 868 healthy controls.

Maternal smoking was not associated with an increased risk of childhood ALL, but the same could not be said for “heavier paternal smoking”.

“The results of our study indicate that the risk of ALL could be increased by 35% when fathers smoked more than 15 cigarettes a day around the time of conception,” said lead researcher Associate Professor Elizabeth Milne.

“This fits with what we know about how tobacco smoke can damage the DNA in sperm, but these sperm are still able to fertilise an ovum.”

There was no increased risk among those men who had quit smoking before trying to conceive, the research showed, suggesting sperm with normal DNA may be produced after smoking is ceased.

Professor Milne said while women were often informed of the

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