Neonatal Haematology, headed by Professor Irene Roberts, focuses on understanding blood problems in children with Down syndrome.
We have known for several decades that young children with Down syndrome have a much higher chance of developing acute leukaemia than children without Down syndrome. The reasons for this are not known and our group has been working to understand why the risk of leukaemia is so much higher and using this knowledge to improve the outcome for these children. One of the main focuses of our work is through the DS Blood Study, also known as the Prospective study to document the frequency and spectrum of haematological abnormalities at birth in newborns with Down syndrome.
Prospective study to document the frequency and spectrum of haematological abnormalities at birth in newborns with Down syndrome
This study was started in 2006 and to our knowledge is the first and largest such study in the world. Working closely with Professor Vyas (MRC Weatherall Institute of Molecular Medicine, University of Oxford), we have recruited more than 400 babies to this study. As a result of this study we know that babies with Down syndrome often carry genetic changes in their blood cells which lead to the development of a sub-type of leukaemia unique to Down syndrome. Working in partnership with our clinical colleagues in many centres we have used this information to develop guidelines to improve the diagnosis and management of these children and hope to introduce them in the UK later this year.
Examples of abnormal blood cells in babies with Down syndrome