Objective This retrospective study examines a cohort of children diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia, examining exposure to medical radiation pre-conception, pre-natal or in early childhood. Exposure is documented through family interview. The study encompasses children diagnosed with A.L.L. and treated at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh over a fifteen year period.
Background Early exposure to medical radiation is one of the identified risks for childhood leukemias but documentation is difficult and mostly lacking in the United States experience. The author of this study developed a questionnaire that examines radiation exposures in either parent of to the child later diagnosed.
Methods Each family who was consented to be interviewed completed a five page questionnaire at clinic visit, through phone or mail. Whenever possible both parents were interviewed.
Results To date the author has been able to interview about 70% of children diagnosed from 2005–2010 however the interview rate for the period 1990–2005 is approximately at 5%. Among the families interviewed at least one exposure was commonly documented.
Conclusions Exposure to medical radiation for a child later diagnosed with A.L.L. may at occur at several critical junctures. Chest or sinus x-rays or CT of a parent pre-conception, particularly repeated scans have the possibility of DNA damage. Early childhood exposure through the diagnostic process (ruling out infection or trauma) may well contribute to this “perfect storm” in the still elusive causes of childhood A.L.L.