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Early Childhood Cancer Survivors More Prone To Pregnancy Complications; Here's Why

Update Date: Apr 27, 2017 10:02 AM EDT

Aside from fertility issues, early childhood cancer survivors are more prone to the risk of pregnancy complications, according to studies in the United States and the United Kingdom. Adolescents and young adults who have survived cancer are also affected by the risk.

What Did The Study Reveal?

In the study done by researchers from the University of North Carolina, there was a prevalence of excess risk of having preterm births and very low birth weight among female cancer survivors diagnosed from 2010 to 2013. The study believes that the pregnancy complications were more pronounced in the subjects who underwent chemotherapy. 

One of the pregnancy complications noted was difficulty in birthing naturally. This was based on how caesarian deliveries were significantly high in these age groups, Medical News Bulletin reported.

The study by the University of Birmingham in the UK corroborates the US findings. Their study focused on childhood cancer survivors who were diagnosed with tumors by age 14 and a majority of the 1,712 subjects were survivors of leukemia or Wilms who received radiation treatment.

The study found that the childhood cancer survivors who had abdominal radiation treatment were more prone to undergo caesarian delivery. The authors believe that pregnancy complications in childhood cancer survivors are caused by the radiation's damage to internal organs like the kidney or the pancreas, Reuters reported.

Effects Of Chemotherapy Revealed As Well

The chemotherapy also damages the ovaries during prolonged treatment and makes many childhood cancer survivors infertile. Oftentimes, they would either resort to in vitro fertilization or egg donation in order to conceive.

But a new treatment is being proposed to the US Health Department where women would have a slice of ovarian tissue harvested with their eggs and then frozen for storage. This would be done before the patient undergoes chemotherapy. 

Once cancer-free, the healthy ovarian tissue will then be transplanted back to the damaged ovary, much like a skin graft to restore reproductive function. Doctors are cautioning cancer survivors to seek counseling and consider the risk of having pregnancy complications very carefully before trying to have children.

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