Radiotherapy for childhood cancer and risk for congenital malformations in offspring: a population-based cohort study

Clin Genet. 2009 Jan;75(1):50-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1399-0004.2008.01109.x. Epub 2008 Nov 17.


Offspring of childhood cancer survivors may be at risk of genetic disease due to the mutagenic cancer treatments received by their parents. Congenital malformations were evaluated in a population-based cohort study of 1715 offspring of 3963 childhood cancer survivors and 6009 offspring of 5657 survivors' siblings. The Danish Central Population Register, Cancer Registry and Hospital Register were used to identify study subjects and congenital malformations. Gonadal and uterine radiation doses were characterized based on standard radiation-treatment regimens. The prevalence of congenital malformations at birth in offspring of survivors (44 cases, 2.6%) was slightly higher but not statistically different from that of offspring of siblings (140 cases, 2.3%) [prevalence proportion ratio (PPR), 1.1; 95% confidence interval, 0.8-1.5] or of the general population (observed-to-expected ratio, 1.2; 0.9-1.6). Including malformations diagnosed later in life did not change the ratios appreciably. The risk for malformations was slightly higher in the offspring of irradiated parents than in that of non-irradiated parents (PPR 1.2 vs 1.0) but was unrelated to gonadal dose. This study provides evidence that cancer therapy of children does not increase the risk for malformations in their offspring. Continued monitoring of genetic risks among their offspring, however, is warranted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Radiation-Induced / epidemiology*
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Cohort Studies
  • Congenital Abnormalities / epidemiology*
  • Congenital Abnormalities / etiology*
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Neoplasms / radiotherapy*
  • Paternal Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome / genetics*
  • Risk Factors