People who have survived cancer as a child can now have a sigh of relief, for two new studies have found fewer risks of their childhood disease on their babies.
While it is believed that fertility can be compromised by cancer treatment, the studies led by researchers at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center 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 pre-term and low birth weight infants compared to the general population.
Among female cancer survivors, 15 percent of births were pre-term 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.
The researchers found that babies fathered by male childhood cancer survivors had a borderline risk of low birth weight but no increased risk of pre-maturity, 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. 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," said Dr. Eric Chow, corresponding author of the study.
He 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 cancer history.
Even close monitoring may help prevent early births and underweight newborns.
For the studies, the researchers used data from cancer registries operated by The National Institutes of Health in four U.S. regions - Seattle, Detroit, Salt Lake City and Atlanta.
The studies have been published in the journal Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.