Studies suggest nearly a 20-fold increased risk of leukemia in individuals with Down syndrome. Most of this increased risk appears in the first few decades of life, with the highest incidence in children less than 5 years of age. It is unknown why children with Down syndrome are at such an increased risk of leukemia. With respect to environmental exposures, it will be important to investigate risk factors associated with childhood leukemia in general (including diagnostic x-rays, pesticides, and other occupational exposures) as well as experiences common to children with Down syndrome (including routine medical screening tests, increased susceptibility to infections, and increased vitamin deficiencies).
(c) 2004 Wiley-Liss, Inc.