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Fertility Drugs Double Children's Leukemia

Fertility Drugs Double Children's Leukemia

(ePharmaNews) -Women who are eager to have a baby may take fertility drugs which can double the chances of their children to develop leukemia, according to a recent French study.

A total of 2,445 French children and their mothers took part in the study, comprising 764 children who had been diagnosed with leukemia and 1,681 who were free of the disease.
Mothers were asked if they had taken more than a year to conceive a child, and questioned about the treatments they had received.

Study leader Dr Jeremie Rudant said: “It has always been hypothesized that assisted reproductive technologies may be involved in the onset of childhood cancer as they involve repeated treatment at the time of conception and or manipulation of the sperm and egg. And it is now established that a majority of acute leukemia have a pre-natal (pre-birth) origin.”

The Researchers found that children were 2.6 times more likely to become ill with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL), the most common type of childhood leukemia, if their mothers had been treated with ovary-stimulating drugs.

They had a 2.3-fold increased risk of suffering the rarer form of the disease; acute myeloid leukemia (AML).But no heightened risk of childhood leukemia was associated either with in-vitro fertilization (IVF) or artificial insemination.

The findings indicate that more research is now needed to investigate more closely the link between specific types of fertility drugs and what role the underlying causes of infertility may play in the potential development of childhood leukemia.

Dr Rudant presented the results at the Childhood Cancer 2012 conference in London, hosted by the charity Children with Cancer UK where leading childhood cancer experts will set the scene on childhood cancer, including incidence, treatment and survival. The French scientists cannot yet fully explain their findings, the first to show a specific link between use of fertility drugs and childhood leukemia.

Dr Rudant said: 'Previous studies have suggested a link between infertility treatments and acute childhood leukemia but there haven't been many studies, most of them have been small and they focused either on IVF or hormonal treatment. Our study was much larger and it's the first time that a specific increased risk linked to fertility drugs has been found.

Despite a significant increase in risk, the actual numbers of children developing leukemia after their mothers undergo fertility treatment remains very small. Just 400 cases of childhood leukemia are diagnosed and around 44,000 cycles of fertility treatment are carried out each year in the UK.

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Prepared by: Marcell Shehwaro

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