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Cancer Risk Up Into Adulthood for Those With Birth Defects

Risk for cancer increased for individuals with nonchromosomal birth defects, chromosomal birth anomalies

baby on the back playing

FRIDAY, Dec. 4, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Individuals with birth defects have an increased risk for cancer, which persists into adulthood, according to a study published online Dec. 2 in The BMJ.

Dagrun Slettebø Daltveit, from the University of Bergen in Norway, and colleagues examined the correlations between birth defects and cancer from birth into adulthood in a population-based nested case-control study with 62,295 cancer cases and 724,542 controls born between 1967 and 2014.

The researchers found that for people with major birth defects versus those without, the odds ratio of cancer was 1.74. The odds ratios for cancer were 1.54 and 5.53 for individuals with nonchromosomal birth defects and for those with chromosomal anomalies, respectively. Many structural birth defects correlated with later cancer in the same organ system or anatomic location. For both nonchromosomal and chromosomal anomalies, the odds ratio of cancer increased with number of defects and decreased with age. For individuals with any nonchromosomal birth defect, the odds ratio of cancer was lower in adults than adolescents and children (odds ratios, 1.21, 1.58, and 2.03 for those aged 20 years and older, 15 to 19 years, and 0 to 14 years, respectively). Among those with chromosomal anomalies, the relative overall cancer risk was reduced from 11.3 in children to 1.50 in adults.

"The most important implication of our results is to provide further rationale for additional studies on the molecular mechanisms involved in the developmental disruptions underlying both birth defects and cancer," the authors write.

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