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. 2014 Oct;38(5):479-89.
doi: 10.1016/j.canep.2014.07.006. Epub 2014 Aug 10.

Epidemiology of Childhood Leukemia in the Presence and Absence of Down Syndrome


Epidemiology of Childhood Leukemia in the Presence and Absence of Down Syndrome

Gabor Mezei et al. Cancer Epidemiol. .


Down syndrome (DS) is a common congenital anomaly, and children with DS have a substantially higher risk of leukemia. Although understanding of genetic and epigenetic changes of childhood leukemia has improved, the causes of childhood leukemia and the potential role of environmental exposures in leukemogenesis remain largely unknown. Although many epidemiologic studies have examined a variety of environmental exposures, ionizing radiation remains the only generally accepted environmental risk factor for childhood leukemia. Among suspected risk factors, infections, exposure to pesticides, and extremely low frequency magnetic fields are notable. While there are well-defined differences between leukemia in children with and without DS, studies of risk factors for leukemia among DS children are generally consistent with trends seen among non-DS (NDS) children. We provide background on DS epidemiology and review the similarities and differences in biological and epidemiologic features of leukemia in children with and without DS. We propose that both acute lymphoblastic and acute myeloblastic leukemia among DS children can serve as an informative model for development of childhood leukemia. Further, the high rates of leukemia among DS children make it possible to study this disease using a cohort approach, a powerful method that is unfeasible in the general population due to the rarity of childhood leukemia.

Keywords: Acute leukemia; Childhood leukemia; Children; Down syndrome; Etiology.

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