Neuropsychological late effects of treatment for acute leukemia in children with Down syndrome
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BACKGROUND: Children with Down syndrome (DS) have an elevated risk of developing acute leukemia, but little is known about treatment-related neuropsychological morbidity because they are systematically excluded from research in this area. The current study investigated neuropsychological outcomes in children with DS treated for acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) or acute myeloid leukemia (AML) compared to children with DS with no history of cancer. PROCEDURE: Participants were 4 to 17 years of age at testing and were administered measures of intelligence, academic achievement, language, visual-motor and fine-motor skills, and adaptive function. Patients had been off treatment for at least 2 years. RESULTS: The AML group (N = 12) had significantly lower verbal intelligence and receptive vocabulary compared to controls (N = 21). By contrast, the ALL group (N = 14) performed significantly worse than controls on measures of verbal intelligence, spelling, receptive and expressive vocabulary, visual-motor skills, and adaptive function. CONCLUSIONS: Patients with DS treated for AML may have specific post-treatment morbidity in verbal function, whereas those treated for ALL have broader morbidity affecting multiple neuropsychological domains and overall adaptive function. We hypothesize that the broader impairment profile of ALL survivors may be related to a combination of the longer duration of central nervous system-directed treatment for ALL compared to AML and the concomitant limited access to intervention opportunities during active treatment.
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