While it is rare for a child to develop leukemia, the sad fact is that approximately 2,000 children a year are diagnosed with this condition in the United States. The most common types are acute lymphocytic leukemia and acute myeloid leukemia.
The cause of leukemia in children is not entirely understood; however, certain risk factors seem to increase a child's chance of developing it. These include:
- Having a brother or sister with leukemia
- Being Caucasian or Hispanic
- Being exposed to x-rays before birth
- Being exposed to cigarette smoke or alcohol before birth
- Having certain genetic disorders, such as Down syndrome.
Screening for leukemia in a child does not appear to be beneficial. Instead, children should see their healthcare provider if possible symptoms are suspected.
(Click Childhood Leukemia to learn more about how this condition is diagnosed, possible symptoms, and important facts on its prevalence.)