Poliovirus vaccination during pregnancy, maternal seroconversion to simian virus 40, and risk of childhood cancer

Eric A. Engels, J. Chen, R. P. Viscidi, K. V. Shah, R. W. Daniel, N. Chatterjee, M. A. Klebanoff

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Before 1963, poliovirus vaccine produced in the United States was contaminated with simian virus 40 (SV40), which causes cancer in animals. To examine whether early-life SV40 infection can cause human cancer, the authors studied 54,796 children enrolled in the US-based Collaborative Perinatal Project (CPP) in 1959-1966, 52 of whom developed cancer by their eighth birthday. Those children whose mothers had received pre-1963 poliovirus vaccine during pregnancy (22.5% of the children) had an increased incidence of neural tumors (hazard ratio = 2.6, 95% confidence interval: 1.0, 6.7; 18 cases) and hematologic malignancies (hazard ratio = 2.8, 95% confidence interval: 1.2, 6.4; 22 cases). For 50 CPP children with cancer and 200 CPP control children, the authors tested paired maternal serum samples from pregnancy for SV40 antibodies using a virus-like particle enzyme immunoassay and a plaque neutralization assay. Overall, mothers exhibited infrequent, low-level SV40 antibody reactivity, and only six case mothers seroconverted by either assay. Using the two SV40 assays, maternal SV40 seroconversion during pregnancy was not consistently related to children's case/control status or mothers' receipt of pre-1963 vaccine. The authors conclude that an increased cancer risk in CPP children whose mothers received pre-1963 poliovirus vaccine was unlikely to have been due to SV40 infection transmitted from mothers to their children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)306-316
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican journal of epidemiology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 15 2004


  • BK virus
  • Brain neoplasms
  • Child
  • Leukemia
  • Neoplasms
  • Poliovirus
  • Poliovirus vaccines
  • Simian virus 40

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


Dive into the research topics of 'Poliovirus vaccination during pregnancy, maternal seroconversion to simian virus 40, and risk of childhood cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this