Risk Factor for Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia

Executive Summary

Risk factors influence the chance of developing cancer (childhood acute myeloid leukemia) among individuals, but individuals with no risk factors also develop cancer. Although the cause of childhood AML is unknown, some factors are linked with higher disease risk. The common risk factors of childhood acute myeloid leukemia cancers include genetic factors and age. Children having Down syndrome are also at risk of developing AML. Children younger than two years and teenagers are at higher risk of developing AML.

Risk Factors Associated with Childhood Acute Myeloid Leukemia

A risk factor can be anything that influences the development of any cancer. But having a risk factor, or many does not give certainty of having particular cancer. Some people with no risk factors can also develop cancer. 

Doctors and researchers are not yet sure about the causes of most childhood cancers, including AML. The below-mentioned factors may raise a child’s risk of developing AML ​1​

  • Genetic factors – Sometimes, AML may be caused by specific genetic factors. For instance, children who have Down syndrome have an increased risk of AML during the first four years of life ​2,3​. Children having other bone marrow disorders are also at risk of developing AML, which slowly increases as they age. However, the reasons for this rising risk are not well understood.

Age – Generally, AML occurs more often in children younger than 2. The number of people with AML rises again in late childhood (during the teenage years) and continues to expand throughout later adulthood ​2​.


  1. 1.
    Belson M, Kingsley B, Holmes A. Risk Factors for Acute Leukemia in Children: A Review. Environmental Health Perspectives. Published online January 2007:138-145. doi:10.1289/ehp.9023
  2. 2.
    Onyije FM, Olsson A, Baaken D, et al. Environmental Risk Factors for Childhood Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia: An Umbrella Review. Cancers. Published online January 13, 2022:382. doi:10.3390/cancers14020382
  3. 3.
    Canalle R, Burim RV, Tone LG, Takahashi CS. Genetic polymorphisms and susceptibility to childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Environ Mol Mutagen. Published online 2004:100-109. doi:10.1002/em.20003