Death before birth?

Published: Sunday 15 March 1998

A pregnant woman's exposure to chemicals and possibly to alcohol may make the baby prone to leukaemia, reports a new study. Mel Graves and his team from the Institute of Cancer Research, USA, recently isolated DNA from the cells of leukaemia -infected children aged five months to two years. In each case the mutations caused the disease had existed at birth. As none of the parents had these mutations, the team believe that these occurred during gestation. They say that most cases of leukaemia in children below two years and others who develop it later in life, originate in the womb (Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences , USA, Vol 94, No 26).

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