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Open Access Research article

Predictors of mother and child DNA yields in buccal cell samples collected in pediatric cancer epidemiologic studies: a report from the Children’s Oncology group

Jenny N Poynter123*, Julie A Ross12, Anthony J Hooten2, Erica Langer2, Crystal Blommer2 and Logan G Spector12

Author Affiliations

1 Division of Epidemiology and Clinical Research, Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

2 Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, USA

3 Department of Pediatrics, MMC 715, 420 Delaware St. S.E., Minneapolis, MN 55455, USA

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BMC Genetics 2013, 14:69  doi:10.1186/1471-2156-14-69

Published: 12 August 2013



Collection of high-quality DNA is essential for molecular epidemiology studies. Methods have been evaluated for optimal DNA collection in studies of adults; however, DNA collection in young children poses additional challenges. Here, we have evaluated predictors of DNA quantity in buccal cells collected for population-based studies of infant leukemia (N = 489 mothers and 392 children) and hepatoblastoma (HB; N = 446 mothers and 412 children) conducted through the Children’s Oncology Group. DNA samples were collected by mail using mouthwash (for mothers and some children) and buccal brush (for children) collection kits and quantified using quantitative real-time PCR. Multivariable linear regression models were used to identify predictors of DNA yield.


Median DNA yield was higher for mothers in both studies compared with their children (14 μg vs. <1 μg). Significant predictors of DNA yield in children included case–control status (β = −0.69, 50% reduction, P = 0.01 for case vs. control children), brush collection type, and season of sample collection. Demographic factors were not strong predictors of DNA yield in mothers or children in this analysis.


The association with seasonality suggests that conditions during transport may influence DNA yield. The low yields observed in most children in these studies highlight the importance of developing alternative methods for DNA collection in younger age groups.

DNA collection; Buccal cells; Pediatric epidemiology