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14 February 2011

Childhood radiation: pregnancy problems

Women who had radiation therapy as children are three times more likely to have premature babies and twice more likely to have underweight babies, say British researchers.

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Women who had radiation therapy for cancer when they were children are three times more likely to have premature babies and two times more likely to have underweight babies than other women, say British researchers who analyzed data from 7,300 pregnancies in childhood cancer survivors.

The Birmingham University researchers said the exact reasons for these increased risks aren't clear, but added that radiation treatment may lead to a smaller womb and reduced blood flow to the womb, BBC News reported.

The researchers also found a 40% increased risk of miscarriage in childhood cancer survivors. There was no link between chemotherapy in childhood and pregnancy complications.

Overall, survivors of childhood cancer had one-third fewer children than women in the general population, and women who had radiation therapy as children had half the number of babies than women in the general population, BBC News reported.

The study appears in the journal Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention. Reuters Health.

 
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