Tiny Wrinkles in the Miracle How Cancer Survivors Give Birth to Extraordinary Babies

Increased Incidence of Birth Defects in Babies from Mothers with a History of Cancer

Teens and young adult women surviving cancer have higher odds of delivering babies with birth defects, according to a new study.

Knowing this, it’s crucial for young women considering pregnancy and prenatal care to receive appropriate counseling and surveillance. The study, led by Caitlin Murphy, associate professor of health promotion and behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health School of Public Health at Houston, highlights the need for healthcare professionals to address the potential risks and reproductive consequences of cancer.

“Concerns like the health of future children are at the top of mind for many young adults diagnosed with cancer,” said Murphy. “But they are already so overwhelmed at the time of diagnosis with navigating cancer-related information.”

The researchers analyzed data from over 6,800 offspring, aged 12 months and younger, born to women between the ages of 15 and 39 at the time of their cancer diagnosis. The study found that while the overall risk of any birth defect was higher in the children of women with a history of cancer, it remained rare in both groups.

However, specific types of defects showed an increased risk in the offspring of women with a cancer history, including eye or ear defects, heart and circulatory defects, abnormalities of the genital and urinary systems, and musculoskeletal abnormalities.

The study suggests that screening babies for birth defects could provide an opportunity for targeted prevention. By identifying these defects early on, healthcare professionals can implement proper interventions and potentially prevent both birth defects and future cancers.

The findings of this study were recently published in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention.

To learn more about birth defects, visit the March of Dimes website.

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