UCLA Cancer Research identifies risk factors for Pediatric Retinoblastoma, a fast growing eye cancer that affects approximately 1 in every 15,000 babies and young children.
Not much is known about the causes of pediatric retinoblastoma. A study conducted at UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center helped identify risk factors for the disease. The results were released late this year, in fall of 2012. According to UCLA’s study, Latina women that were born in the United States are more likely to have children that experience retinoblastoma before the age of six. The Jonsson Cancer Center research team analyzed all retinoblastoma cases from the California Cancer Registry between the years of 1988 and 2007. There were a total of 609 patients diagnosed with pediatric retinoblastoma. Of the 609 patients, 420 retinoblastoma cases occurred in one eye (unilateral) and 187 cases occurred in both eyes (bilateral). Risk Factors The significance of this study is that U.S. children born from native U.S. Latina women are at greater risk of unilateral retinoblastoma. Latina women that were born and raised in non-U.S. countries, such as Mexico, have a much smaller risk of their children developing pediatric retinoblastoma. This correlation does not apply to bilateral retinoblastoma, which is believed to be hereditary in 40% of all cases. UCLA’s Jonsson Cancer Center study identified other risk factors, including:
- Paternal Age – Children born with fathers of developed age are at a higher risk for many diseases in general. This is due to the mutation of certain genes. Since some cases of pediatric retinoblastoma are believed to be hereditary, this results in elevated retinoblastoma risk.
- Multiple Births – Children born in sets, such as twins or triplets, have a greater risk of developing retinoblastoma.
- Maternal Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD) – Children born with mothers who have any type of STD are more likely to develop retinoblastoma.
Healthy Habits Dr. Beate Ritz and Julia Heck collaborated to lead the research team for UCLA’s study. They suggest that Latina women raised in rural Mexico practice healthier perinatal habits than their U.S. counterparts. Their diets are well-rounded, despite a common deficit in education or socioeconomic status. Thus, children of non-U.S. Latina women may experience lower risk for pediatric retinoblastoma. Women of all ethnicities who practice healthy habits are doing their children a favor. It is important to maintain a well-rounded, healthy diet during pregnancy and shortly after pregnancy. Nutrients and immunities passed to the infant through breast milk can help a child avoid many medical complications. Furthermore, regular optometrist visits will help ensure the health of your child’s eyes.
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