Germ-Free Childhood Could Cause Leukemia

A new study has shown a germ-free childhood followed by infections later in childhood can trigger the onset of childhood leukemia. The research, published Monday in the journal Nature Reviews Cancer, finds the most common type of childhood cancer is caused by a two-step process. The first step to developing acute lymphoblastic leukemia is a genetic mutation before birth that predisposes a child to develop this form of cancer. The second step is exposure to certain infections later in childhood, after germ free early childhoods. The study shows children who grew up in cleaner households during their first year and interacted less with other children are more likely to develop acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Acute lymphoblastic leukemia is most often diagnosed in children ages zero to 4 years old. It develops quickly building up in the blood and spreads to other parts of the body, including the lymph nodes, liver and nervous system.


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