Science Questions

Can a baby be born with leukaemia?

Tue, 11th Dec 2012

Listen Now    Download as mp3 from the show Unravelling Epigenetics


Pauline via text asked:

A baby died at 3 months of age with acute leukaemia, but the doctor said the baby was born with it. Could that be the case?


Mark D. -   Yes, so what we now know is that many of the infantile leukaemias actually had their origins in utero. 

So, when we go and have a look at whenever any baby is born - and you would’ve seen this with your own kids - you have a heel prick test and this is taken away to be tested for a number of common genetic diseases.  When you go back and have a look at these samples [from a leukaemia patient], for instance these chromosomal translocations, these abnormal fusion genes that drive leukaemia, are they present when the baby is actually born?  In a number of cases, the answer is yes.  So, this abnormal genetic event is not inherited, but for some reason, happens while the baby is in utero.


Subscribe Free

Related Content


Make a comment

See the whole discussion | Make a comment

Not working please enable javascript
Genetics Society