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Birth Defect Risk Slightly Higher for Kids of Male Cancer Survivors
Date:2/8/2011

By Amanda Gardner
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Feb. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Men who have had cancer are at a slightly higher risk of bearing children with congenital problems such as a cleft palate compared to their peers with no history of cancer, according to new research.

But the overall risk was low, researchers from Sweden report in the Feb. 8 online edition of the Journal of the National Cancer Institute.

And the findings are also reassuring to male cancer survivors who choose to conceive using assisted reproductive technologies (ART), as they have no additional risk over their peers who conceive naturally.

"The results of our study are reassuring in that men previously treated for cancer needing assisted reproduction to get children do not need to worry about [increasing] the risk of malformations in their children," said study co-author, Dr. Aleksander Giwercman, chairman of the Reproductive Medicine Centre and associate professor at Skane University Hospital, Lund University, Malmo, Sweden. "Furthermore, for this group of patients, in general, although the malformation risk in the offspring is indeed increased, this increase is only slight."

There has been concern that treatments such as chemotherapy and radiation might damage sperm DNA, although the effect is usually temporary.

As in this new study, previous research has found some -- but not much -- increased risk of congenital abnormalities among children of male cancer survivors. None of the earlier studies had looked specifically at ART, which some men use because of difficulties fertilizing an egg after their cancer. (ART includes such procedures as in vitro fertilization, in which fertilization of the egg and sperm occur outside the woman's body, and intracytoplasmic sperm injection, in which a single sperm is injected into the center of an egg to initiate fertilization.)

The study included 8,670 children who had been bor
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