Study Finds Cancer Treatment Doesn’t Harm Unborn Baby, Pregnant Women Advised Not to Abort

International   |   Sarah Zagorski   |   Oct 1, 2015   |   1:38PM   |   Washington, DC

A new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine shows that cancer treatments do not harm unborn children. The researchers wrote, “Prenatal exposure to maternal cancer with or without treatment did not impair the cognitive, cardiac, or general development of children in early childhood. Prematurity was correlated with a worse cognitive outcome, but this effect was independent of cancer treatment.”

One of the lead researchers of the study, Professor Frédéric Amant, said the following about the findings: “Our results show that fear of cancer treatment is no reason to terminate a pregnancy, that maternal treatment should not be delayed and that chemotherapy can be given. The study also shows that children suffer more from prematurity than from chemotherapy, so avoiding prematurity is more important than avoiding chemotherapy.”

The Daily Mail reports that Amant’s team examined 129 children born after their mothers underwent cancer treatment while their children were still in utero. Remarkably, radiotherapy, chemotherapy nor surgery harmed the unborn babies. This information led the researchers to believe that women who are pregnant and have cancer should not delay treatment and do not “need” to abort their baby.

The children who were a part of the study were aged 18-months to three years, and there was no difference between their development and the development of children whose mothers did not have cancer. Amant explained, “Compared to the control group of children, we found no significant differences in mental development among children exposed to chemotherapy, radiotherapy, surgery alone or no treatment. Nor was the number of chemotherapy cycles during pregnancy, which ranged from one to ten, related to the outcome of the children.”


However, Amant did indicate that some women decide to deliver prematurely so they can continue treatment after delivery. He said, “In most cases, they were born prematurely due to a medical decision to induce preterm so as to continue cancer treatment after the delivery.” He added that their data did not include all types of chemotherapy. “Our data include many types of chemotherapy, but we cannot guarantee that all types of chemotherapy are safe. We need to look at larger numbers of children and larger numbers exposed to each drug in order to be able to document the potential effects of individual drugs,” he said.

The head information nurse at Cancer Research UK, Martin Ledwick, echoed Amant’s comments. He said, “Although the results of the study seem encouraging, it’s important to acknowledge that a range of chemotherapy drugs and other treatments were used on the mothers so it may be hard to draw firm conclusions. It’s already known that some breast cancer drugs may be safe to give after the first three months of pregnancy but it’s unclear from the study which women fitted into this category.”

As LifeNews previously reported, Dr. Elyce Cardonick, a maternal-fetal medicine specialist at Cooper University Hospital in New Jersey said, “Thirty years ago, there was almost no information on how children with prenatal exposure to chemotherapy turned out. Today we know that it’s relatively safe after the first trimester.”

Thankfully, according to a CNN News story, these days it is rare for a doctor to counsel a cancer patient to have an abortion because now more than ever, women can fight cancer and have healthy children.