Rank order of affected offspring in a sibship can inform on epigenetic factors in disease susceptibility. Here we report an analysis of birth order in 32 families segregating chronic lymphocytic leukaemia (CLL) and other B-cell lymphoproliferative disorders. A paternal-offspring, but not a maternal-offspring birth rank order was observed. Cox regression analysis provided relative risks (RR) for paternal and maternal transmission of 3.60 (CI 95%: 1.54 - 8.42; P = 0.0005) and 1.64 (CI 95%: 0.90 - 3.01; P = 0.096), respectively. The significance of paternal and maternal transmission of CLL-CLL pairs employing Haldane and Smith's test were 0.006 and 0.63, respectively. There was no evidence of a relationship between parental age and birth order. The genetic mechanism behind the birth order effect observed is discussed in the light of non-Mendelian imprinting and pregnancy related microchimerism.
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