Leukemia is a type of blood cancer that starts in the bone marrow, with certain types associated with different age groups.
Congenital leukemia is seen in young infants who are born with this cancer. Symptoms appear within the first few weeks of life.
Learn more about this rare type of cancer, including the possible causes, symptoms, and treatment options to discuss with a pediatrician.
Leukemia describes a group of blood cancers. It’s further classified into different subtypes based on the types of blood cells affected (myeloid or lymphoid cells) and how quickly it grows (acute or chronic).
While it’s possible to develop leukemia at any age, it’s most common in adults. However, according to the
Congenital leukemia (CL) means that this type of cancer is present at birth, and clinical signs develop within the first
CL is a rare occurrence and is different from childhood leukemia that develops later in a child’s life. In fact, it’s estimated that CL occurs in only
In infants, the
Children with leukemia may have signs and symptoms such as:
- pale skin
- nosebleeds (epistaxis)
- frequent infections
- yellowing of the skin and eyes (jaundice)
- enlarged spleen (splenomegaly)
- enlarged kidneys
- enlarged liver (hepatomegaly)
- spleen enlargement (splenomegaly)
- both liver and spleen enlargement (hepatosplenomegaly)
- bleeding in the brain (intracranial hemorrhage)
In some cases, CL may result in stillbirth.
CL develops in utero before birth. Also, while some childhood leukemias develop alongside Down syndrome, this isn’t common with CL.
The exact cause of CL isn’t known. However, fetal exposure to toxins or some medications
Also, according to an
For children with signs or symptoms of leukemia, the following tests may be performed:
- physical exam
- blood tests
- imaging tests, such as CT and MRI scans
- lumbar puncture, or spinal tap
- bone marrow aspiration
If a child needs a bone marrow aspiration or a biopsy, they may be sedated or given medication so that they sleep during the procedure and don’t feel the discomfort.
Chemotherapy is the
Additionally, a pediatric oncologist may recommend supportive care techniques to help improve quality of life and decrease the risk of complications. These include:
- maintaining hydration and fluid balance
- monitoring liver function
- taking frequent blood counts
While the exact causes of CL aren’t known, it’s thought that drug or toxin exposures during pregnancy may be risk factors. KMTA2A gene mutations are other risk factors for this rare type of leukemia.
CL is considered to have a poor outlook, with
Chemotherapy was found to
Can leukemia be congenital?
The term “congenital” means that a particular condition is present at birth. While some babies may be born with leukemia, this is still considered a very rare event.
Is congenital leukemia hereditary?
Like other forms of leukemia, CL can’t be passed down from parent to child. However, certain genetic mutations may be inherited and can contribute to the formation of CL in a newborn. This is still
What are the most common types of leukemia?
CL is a rare form of leukemia. The four main types of leukemia include:
- acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL)
- acute myeloid leukemia (AML)
- chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL)
- chronic myelogenous leukemia (CML)
CL is a rare type of leukemia that develops in utero before a child is born. Symptoms may develop within the first month of life, with skin lesions being the most common.
To date, chemotherapy is the most reliable treatment option that may be particularly helpful in infants who might have CL due to inherited gene mutations.
Much more research is needed to determine the underlying causes and treatment options for this rare cancer.