Baseline chromosome aberrations in children

Domenico Franco Merlo, Marcello Ceppi, Elena Stagi, Vittorio Bocchini, Radim J. Sram, Pavel Rössner

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Field studies conducted in children exposed to ionizing radiation and industrial chemicals have consistently reported increased frequencies of chromosome aberrations in those environmentally exposed than in referent subjects. Exposure(s) occurring during childhood - as well as in utero - may continue for several years, become chronic, and eventually play a relevant role in the etiology of childhood as well as adulthood cancers. Indeed the statistical association between CA frequency in peripheral blood lymphocytes and cancer risk detected in occupationally exposed adults supports the hypothesis that CA is a predictor of cancer. These facts suggest the usefulness of including CA as biomarkers of genetic damage in epidemiologic studies of children exposed to environmental pollutants. As reported for other cytogenetic biomarkers, CA frequency may vary with gender and age in children as well as in adults. Estimates of the baseline frequency of CA in a pediatric population is a prerequisite in planning epidemiologic investigations of children exposed to low level of environmental genotoxic agents. The CA baseline levels were estimated from 16 published epidemiologic studies and from a large sample of Czech children aged 7-16 years (n = 1214) and 206 newborns, all serving as referents (not exposed individuals). For the whole referent population (age range 0-19 years) the mean CA frequency estimated from the published findings was 1.24% (95%CI = 1.05-1.47). Similar baseline levels were found for chromosome breaks frequency in boys and girls: 1.22% (95%CI = 1.12-1.32) and 1.21% (95%CI = 1.10-1.31), respectively. Among newborns CA baseline frequency was 1.14% (95%CI = 0.96-1.32). Based on the reviewed studies and the reanalysed data, CA baseline levels were similar in boys and girls and failed to show any increase with age.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)60-67
Number of pages8
JournalToxicology Letters
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Jul 30 2007


  • Baseline levels
  • Children
  • Chromosome aberrations
  • Molecular epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology


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