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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Ancestry is Associated with Brain Tumor Diagnosis in Some Children

Children of European ancestry who have a disorder that predisposes them to brain tumors are more likely to be diagnosed with tumors than children of African or Asian descent, according to new research from the Brown School at Washington University in St. Louis.

[Photo: Dr. Kimberly J. Johnson]

The disorder, Neurofibromatosis Type 1 (NF1), affects about 1 in 3,000 people worldwide. It can be inherited from a parent or arise sporadically.

Researchers analyzed data from 2,038 patients with NF1 whose information was taken from the NF1 Patient Registry Initiative ( ) and medical records.

They found that diagnoses of pediatric brain tumors varied by race among those with NF1. A higher percentage of diagnoses were found in White patients compared to African-American or Asian patients. Pediatric brain tumor diagnoses did not vary by Hispanic ethnicity.

The difference “could be explained by genetic, environmental, or social factors or a combination of these factors that correlate with race/ethnicity,” wrote co-author Dr. Kimberly J. Johnson, assistant professor at the Brown School.

“Further research is needed to determine the underlying reasons. This work could lead to the discovery of new predictive markers for brain tumor development in children with NF1.”

The study was published in The Journal of Pediatrics.

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