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Children With Down Syndrome Experience More Medical Imaging

More medical imaging, including CT, fluoroscopy, angiography, nuclear medicine, reported for those with Down syndrome, especially in those younger than 1 year

By Elana Gotkine HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 12, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Children with Down syndrome experience more medical imaging and higher radiation exposure compared with other children, according to a study published online Sept. 6 in PLOS ONE.

Emily C. Marlow, Ph.D., from the American Cancer Society in Kennesaw, Georgia, and colleagues examined the frequency of medical imaging and estimated associated radiation exposure in children with Down syndrome in a retrospective cohort study involving 4,348,226 children enrolled in six U.S. integrated health care systems from 1996 to 2016, including 3,095 with Down syndrome. Imaging rates were calculated per 100 person-years.

The researchers found that children with Down syndrome aged younger than 1 year and 1 to 8 years received imaging using ionizing radiation at 9.5 and 2.3 times the rate, respectively, compared with other children. By modality, imaging rates in children younger than 1 year who have Down syndrome versus other children were 3.1, 11.9, 35.8, 8.2, 11.3, 4.2, and 12.6 for computed tomography, fluoroscopy, angiography, nuclear medicine, radiography, magnetic resonance imaging, and ultrasound, respectively. During a mean of 4.2 years, the mean cumulative red bone marrow dose from imaging was twofold higher in children with Down syndrome versus other children (4.7 versus 1.9 mGy).

“The message we want to convey is that medical imaging should be used judiciously,” co-senior author Rebecca Smith-Bindman, M.D., from the University of California, San Francisco, said in a statement. “Physicians and parents should work together to ensure that imaging is used only when there is clear need for additional information that imaging can provide, and that the potential benefit justifies the additional risk.”

One author disclosed ties to Pfizer.

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