Pesticides May Be Linked to Rising Child Leukaemia
By Lyndsay Moss and Jennifer Sym, PA News
September 6, 2004
Pesticides and other environmental pollution may affect unborn children – and play a role in the rising rates of childhood leukaemia, new research suggested today.
A study, unveiled at the First International Scientific conference on Childhood Leukaemia in London, indicated harmful environmental agents can cross the placenta from mother to foetus.
The study suggests the transfer could affect the immune system of the child, which could be linked to the increasing incidence of the disease.
Children in the womb are particularly sensitive to environmental agents, the scientists found, after carrying out tests on donated human placentas and pregnant guinea pigs.
The paper was released as experts warned falling numbers of deaths from childhood leukaemia had diverted attention away from rising rates.
Professor Alan Preece, Professor of Medical Physics at the University of Bristol, said: “We think it has an affect on immunology which is possibly linked to leukaemia.
“We found that foetal organ concentrations can exceed those of the mother which may have implications due to the increased sensitivity of the foetus.
“The exact levels are as yet unknown but we know that childhood leukaemia is initiated in utero and this could well be a factor in the initiation.
“Consideration must now be given to the likely risk estimates.”