The etiology of neuroblastoma is not well understood. Certain cases however do run in families and have been linked to genetics. Familial neuroblastoma is cased by a very rare germline mutations in the anaplastic lymphoma kinase (ALK) gene.
Several risk factors have been proposed and are the subject of ongoing research.
Due to characteristic early onset many studies have focused on parental factors around conception and during gestation. Factors investigated have included occupation (i.e. exposure to chemicals in specific industries), smoking, alcohol consumption, use of medicinal drugs during pregnancy and birth factors; however, results have been inconclusive.
Other studies have examined possible links with atopy and exposure to infection early in life, use of hormones and fertility drugs, and maternal use of hair dye.