Child and maternal household chemical exposure and the risk of acute leukemia in children with Down's syndrome: a report from the Children's Oncology Group

Am J Epidemiol. 2006 Aug 1;164(3):212-21. doi: 10.1093/aje/kwj203. Epub 2006 Jun 7.


Compared with the general pediatric population, children with Down's syndrome have a much higher risk of acute leukemia. This case-control study was designed to explore potential risk factors for acute lymphoblastic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia in children with Down's syndrome living in the United States or Canada. Mothers of 158 children with Down's syndrome and acute leukemia (97 acute lymphoblastic leukemia, 61 acute myeloid leukemia) diagnosed between January 1997 and October 2002 and mothers of 173 children with Down's syndrome but without leukemia were interviewed by telephone. Positive associations were found between acute lymphoblastic leukemia and maternal exposure to professional pest exterminations (odds ratio = 2.25, 95% confidence interval: 1.13, 4.49), to any pesticide (odds ratio = 2.18, 95% confidence interval: 1.08, 4.39), and to any chemical (odds ratio = 2.72, 95% confidence interval: 1.17, 6.35). Most of the associations with acute myeloid leukemia were nonsignificant, and odds ratios were generally near or below 1.0. This exploratory study suggests that household chemical exposure may play a role in the development of acute lymphoblastic leukemia in children with Down's syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Down Syndrome / complications*
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Household Products / adverse effects*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / etiology*
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects
  • Paint / adverse effects
  • Pesticides / adverse effects
  • Petroleum / adverse effects
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / etiology*
  • Pregnancy


  • Pesticides
  • Petroleum