London: Chemotherapy during pregnancy is safe and does not endanger the unborn child, a new study has claimed.
Researchers from Germany found that women who received treatment for cancer during pregnancy had no greater risk of children with birth defects or other health issues, a newspaper reported.
There was no need to interrupt the pregnancy in any way, delay treatment or use less powerful drugs because there is little evidence the baby will be affected, researchers said.
In a study of more than 400 women from across Europe who were diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer while pregnant, almost half underwent chemotherapy during pregnancy.
Researchers assessed whether the newborn babies of the 197 treated women suffered any ill effects that could be attributable to the cancer drugs.
Babies whose mothers had undergone chemotherapy while pregnant had, on average, a lower birth weight than those whose mothers had not had chemotherapy.
Babies exposed to chemotherapy while in the womb appeared to have no higher risk of birth defects, no lower scores of wellbeing at birth, no more frequent blood disorders or alopecia than those whose mothers did not receive chemotherapy while pregnant.
"If our findings are confirmed by other studies, breast cancer during pregnancy could be treated as it is in non-pregnant women without putting foetal and maternal outcomes at substantially increased risk," Professor Sibylle Loibl, of the German Breast Group which led the study, said.
"In the general population, about 10-15 per cent of infants are born preterm, but in our study, 50 per cent of women with breast cancer delivered preterm, with 23 per cent delivering before the 35th week of gestation," Loibl was quoted as saying by the paper.
"More complications were reported in the group of infants exposed to chemotherapy than in the group not exposed to chemotherapy. However, most complications were reported in babies who were delivered prematurely, irrespective of exposure to chemotherapy," Loibl added.
The study was published in The Lancet Oncology journal.