The study, published in The Lancet Oncology last week, studied 68 pregnancies during which 236 cycles of cancer medication was administered. The children were assessed at birth, at the age of 18 months, and at either five, eight, nine, 11, 14 or 18 years. The children were examined for general health, damage to the central nervous system, heart and hearing problems, and cognitive skills.
Investigators found no evidence that the children were harmed by the chemotherapy. The paper states that doctors should therefore not be fearful about providing cancer treatment to pregnant women, and should not be tempted into inducing earlier birth thinking it may protect the baby.
‘In practice, it is possible to administer chemotherapy from 14 weeks gestational age onwards,’ reads the paper. ‘To allow the bone marrow to recover and to minimise the risk of maternal and foetal sepsis and haemorrhage, delivery should be planned at least three weeks after the last cycle of chemotherapy, and chemotherapy should not be given after 35 weeks since spontaneous labour becomes more probable.”