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Drinking While Pregnant Tied to Rare Leukemia in Offspring
Date:5/6/2010

There's no safe amount of alcohol for women during this time, experts say

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant woman may have another reason to avoid drinking, with a new study finding that alcohol use during pregnancy ups the risk for a rare blood cancer in children.

The research, by French scientists, found the chance of getting acute myeloid leukemia (AML), an often fatal blood cancer, increased by 56 percent for children whose mothers drank alcohol while pregnant.

The study reinforces doctor's warnings that pregnant women and women trying to conceive should avoid drinking, said the study's author, Paule Latino-Martel, research director at the University of Paris Unit of Research on Nutritional Epidemiology.

"Pregnant women and women who are trying to conceive are [already] advised to avoid drinking alcohol, in order to prevent fetal alcohol syndrome," Latino-Martel noted. "Our findings strengthen this recommendation."

"The balance of evidence suggests there is a risk, there is a link between alcohol and AML," added one expert, Dr. Patrick Zweidler-McKay, assistant professor of pediatric oncology at the University of Texas M.D. Anderson Cancer Center, Houston. "During pregnancy common sense should prevail."

While the perils of alcohol use during pregnancy have been widely publicized for years, too many pregnant women still drink. According to background information in the study, about 12 percent of pregnant women in the United States report consuming alcohol, as do 52 percent in France and 60 percent in Russia.

There are about 700 cases of acute myeloid leukemia in the United States each year, Latino-Martel said, and the prognosis for recovery has greatly improved in the last decade. The five-year survival rate for children up to 14 years of age has now reached about 60 percent, he said.

In the study, published in the May edition of Cancer Epidemiology, Markers
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