‘Prenatal chemo safe for babies’
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By , Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi , India
Cancer Therapy During Pregnancy Doesn’t Stunt Child’s Growth: Study
Now, would–be mothers undergoing chemotherapy can rest easy.
A study has confirmed that chemotherapy during pregnancy does not cause developmental problems in children born later.
A new research — to be presented at the ongoing 2011 European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress — says children born after their mothers were treated with chemotherapy during pregnancy appear to be unaffected by the experience in terms of development of their mental processes and the normal functioning of their hearts.
Professor Frederic Amant will tell the Congress, “This is the first time children of 18 months and older have been examined after chemotherapy during pregnancy and the news is reassuring in respect of the effects of chemotherapy on cognitive and cardiac outcomes.“ However, he will say that a significant number (47) of the 70 children born from 68 pregnancies were delivered pre–term and the researchers found that prematurity but not chemotherapy affect these children’s cognitive development significantly.
The study was funded by the Research Foundation Flanders Project and the Flemish government.
Prof Amant, a gynecological oncologist at the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium, and colleagues in two other European countries (Netherlands and the Czech Republic) recruited children for the study in 2005.
They included children who had been born before that time (between 1991 and 2004) and those that were born between 2005 and 2010, ranging in the age group of 18 months to 18 years.
The children were examined at birth and at the following age groups — 18 months, 5–6, 8–9, 11–12, 15–16 and 18 years. The children’s health was monitored for an average of nearly two years, with some of them followed for as long as 18 years.
Sixty–eight would–be mothers were treated with chemotherapy, either on its own or in combination with radiotherapy or surgery or both for a range of various cancers. The most common cancer was breast (35 women), followed by hematological cancers such as leukaemia and lymphomas (18), ovarian cancer (6) and cervical cancer (4).