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Studies find few risks to newborn offspring of parents who are childhood cancer survivors
Date:10/1/2009

SEATTLE Whether they can have children is one of the major concerns for adult survivors of childhood and adolescent cancer because fertility can be compromised by cancer treatment. For cancer survivors who can have children, two new studies led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center may help alleviate fears that their childhood disease will adversely impact their newborns.

The studies, presented as companion papers in the journal Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, observed few risks to babies born to parents who underwent cancer treatment in childhood or adolescence. The most significant finding was among women cancer survivors, who had a greater risk of giving birth to preterm and low birth weight infants compared to the general population. Among female cancer survivors, 15 percent of births were preterm versus 10 percent among women who never had cancer. However, babies born to female cancer survivors had no increased risk of birth defects or infant death, according to the paper that examined pregnancy outcomes.

In the companion paper, babies fathered by male childhood cancer survivors had a borderline risk of low birth weight but no increased risk of prematurity, being small for gestational age, or having birth defects when compared to controls.

"The take home message overall is positive. If you had cancer as a younger person and you are able to have children then most likely your children will be fine," said Eric Chow, M.D., Ph.D., corresponding author and research associate in the Hutchinson Center's Clinical Research and Public Health Sciences divisions. "Most of the other side effects that people have the most concern about birth defects and more serious maternal complications during pregnancy we didn't find those things."

Chow said pregnant women who had cancer in childhood should seek prenatal care early in their pregnancies and make sure their physicians and obstetricians know about their can
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Contact: Dean Forbes
dforbes@fhcrc.org
206-667-2896
Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center
Source:Eurekalert

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