Study: Radiation, chemo may not cause birth defects


December 13, 2011 9:41:37 AM PST
Radiation and chemotherapy given to young cancer patients does not seem to increase the risk that their children will have birth defects years later.

Researchers say this is reassuring because some doctors have wondered if the powerful drugs and radiation directed near the ovaries or testicles might have long-term effects.

Researchers followed close to 2,800 childhood cancer survivors in the United States and Canada. Of 4,700 babies born to survivors at least five years after they finished treatment, just under 3 percent had at least one birth defect, including cleft lip and palate and Down syndrome. That's about the average rate of birth defects in the U.S.

The findings are published in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.