There is reassuring news for women who are pregnant and facing treatment for cancer.
A new study shows little evidence that exposure to chemotherapy in the womb in the second and third trimesters leads to health problems or developmental delays in childhood.
Children in the study whose mothers had an average of three to four cycles of chemotherapy during pregnancy were subjected to a battery of tests to assess their general health, intelligence, and behavioral development.
The tests suggested that fetal exposure to chemotherapy after the first trimester is not associated with developmental and health issues.
Intelligence scores were significantly lower among children who were born prematurely, but early delivery, and not exposure to chemotherapy, was thought to be the cause.
Researcher Frederic Amant, MD, PhD, of Belgium's Leuven Cancer Institute says the findings make it clear that planned early delivery to avoid such exposure should be avoided in most cases.