London: Breast cancer rates among pregnant women are on the rise, warns an expert.
The diagnosis of the disease in expectant mothers leads to a terrible dilemma as the treatment can be devastating for the unborn child.
The chances of birth defects in children were higher amongst breast cancer patients regardless of what treatment they received, a team led by Sibylle Loibl of the German Breast Group found, reports the Telegraph.
The study looked at 313 pregnant women with breast cancer to see how their treatment affected the child, according to a statement of the German Breast Group.
Loibl said: "At the time we started the study in 2003, there was hardly any information on breast cancer therapy during pregnancy, but we felt there was a medical need for it."
The seven year study looked at women aged between 23 and 47, with various types of cancer in different stages.
Of the women, 23 percent were in their first trimester, 42 percent in the second and 36 percent in the third. Various treatments including chemotherapy were used to treat them.
Two of the infants died shortly after birth, and 29 of the women did not continue the pregnancy. Premature babies were found to be more common among those who did not receive chemotherapy.
The children were found to be at higher risk of congenital problems than the usual population.
These findings were presented at the San Antonio Breast Cancer Symposium, in the US.