Chemo does not harm baby - study
New research has reassured women that having chemotherapy cancer treatment during their pregnancy does not harm their baby or negatively affect the child's later development.
These findings do not support the current strategy of inducing early labour or delaying chemotherapy until after the baby is born to avoid harming the unborn child.
Belgian researchers reviewed 68 pregnancies during which 236 cycles of chemotherapy were administered - about three or four per pregnancy. On average, the women were 18 weeks pregnant when they were diagnosed with cancer. The 70 children assessed ranged in age from one to 18 years.
Led by Dr Frédéric Amant, the research team from the Leuven Cancer Institute, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven in Belgium, tested the children's mental, physical and behavioural development. They concluded that all of theses measurements corresponded with those of children in general population.
"We show that children who were prenatally exposed to chemotherapy do as well as other children... Our findings do not support a strategy of delay in chemotherapy administration or iatrogenic (ie physician-induced) preterm delivery with post-partum chemotherapy administration to avoid harm to the foetus," the authors said.
They added: "The decision to administer chemotherapy should follow the same guidelines as in non-pregnant patients. In practice, it is possible to administer chemotherapy from 14 weeks gestational age onwards with specific attention to prenatal care."
The researchers recommended further follow-up of additional children over a longer period to increase certainty that chemotherapy during pregnancy does not harm the health of the unborn baby.
The study was published Online First by The Lancet Oncology.
[Posted: Fri 10/02/2012]