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Neonatal Outcomes Examined in Cancer Pregnancies

Study shows good outcomes but a higher rate of preterm labor and neonatal intensive care

FRIDAY, Oct. 23 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnancies in women with cancer tend to have good outcomes overall, but have been associated with high rates of induced labor and newborn admission to a neonatal intensive care unit (NICU), according to a study published online Oct. 19 in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Kristel Van Calsteren, M.D., of Katholieke Universiteit in Leuven, Belgium, and colleagues analyzed data on pregnant women with cancer, including their diagnosis, treatment, and neonatal outcomes between 1998 and 2008.

The researchers note that delivery was induced in 71.7 percent of pregnancies, with 54.2 percent of pregnancies resulting in preterm births. Cancer treatment was started in 56.7 percent of the pregnant women, while 27 percent began treatment after their delivery. In women exposed to cytotoxic treatment during pregnancy, preterm labor was increased (11.8 percent), as well as the proportion of small-for-gestational-age children (24.2 percent). A total of 51.2 percent of the exposed newborns were admitted to a NICU, mostly because of premature birth, but no increase was seen in the incidence of congenital birth defects.

"The findings of this study show an overall good outcome of pregnancies complicated with cancer. However, a high rate of preterm labor induction with a subsequent high rate of admission of infants to the NICU was observed. Interdisciplinary decision making on the timing of delivery by obstetricians and neonatologists is necessary," the authors write.

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