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Most Childhood Cancer Survivors Have Healthy Babies
Date:10/6/2009

But pregnancies should be closely monitored, researchers say

TUESDAY, Oct. 6 (HealthDay News) -- Most female and male childhood cancer survivors have normal pregnancies and healthy children, according to two U.S. studies.

Treatments -- chemotherapy, radiation and surgery -- that save the lives of children with cancer may affect their future reproductive health. As the number of childhood cancer survivors increases, it's becoming increasingly important to identify possible problems, including the effects on their babies, the study authors pointed out.

In one study, researchers looked at 1,898 infants born to women diagnosed with cancer before they were 20 and compared them with 14,278 infants born to women who didn't have childhood cancer.

Infants born to the childhood cancer survivors weren't at increased risk for birth defects or death, but were 54 percent more likely to be born preterm and 31 percent more likely to weigh less than 2,500 grams (5.5 pounds) at birth. However, the infants weren't at increased risk for being small for gestational age, the study authors noted.

The researchers also studied infant outcomes by type of mother's cancer and treatments.

"Risk of preterm delivery was greatest after leukemia but also was associated with lymphoma, bone tumors, soft-tissue sarcomas and an abdominal primary cancer site. Among treatment exposures, chemotherapy was associated with a twofold increased risk of preterm delivery, but relative risks were significantly increased for most other modalities as well," wrote Beth A. Mueller, of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and the University of Washington in Seattle, and colleagues.

Rates of diabetes, preeclampsia and anemia during pregnancy were similar in both groups of women. But diabetes was more common among bone cancer survivors; anemia among brain tumor survivors and those treated with chemotherapy; and preeclampsia among
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