Neurodevelopment of children exposed in utero to treatment of maternal malignancy

Br J Cancer. 2001 Nov 30;85(11):1611-8. doi: 10.1054/bjoc.2001.2090.


Cancer is the second most common cause of death during the reproductive years, complicating approximately 1/1000 pregnancies. The occurrence of cancer during gestation is likely to increase as a result of a woman's tendency to delay childbearing. Improved diagnostic techniques for malignancies increases detection of cancer during pregnancy. Malignant conditions during gestation are believed to be associated with an increase in poor perinatal and fetal outcomes that are often due to maternal treatment. Physicians should weigh the benefits of treatment against the risks of fetal exposure. To date, most reports have focused on morphologic observations made very close to the time of delivery with little data collected on children's long-term neurodevelopment following in utero exposure to malignancy and treatment. Because the brain differentiates throughout pregnancy and in early postnatal life, damage may occur even after first trimester exposure. The possible delayed effects of treatment on a child's neurological, intellectual and behavioural functioning have never been systematically evaluated. The goal of this report was to summarize all related issues into one review to facilitate both practitioners' and patients' access to known data on fetal risks and safety.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Nervous System / embryology*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Neoplastic / physiopathology*
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*