Cancer during pregnancy – study of women and their children

The Vissing Foundation is supporting the research project into Cancer during Pregnancy – following up on children born to mothers who had cancer during pregnancy.

Cancer during pregnancy is rare, but its occurrence is increasing. One of the reasons is that many women postpone having children. Previously, doctors recommended interrupting the pregnancy right up to the 22nd week of gestation if a pregnant woman was diagnosed with cancer. The treatment for cancer was postponed until after the birth, as it was feared that the treatment could harm the unborn child. This could mean that chemotherapy was delayed by months, and that the birth was induced before term. Recent research has shown that, provided it is initiated after the first trimester, chemotherapy during pregnancy does not harm the unborn foetus. Chemotherapy during pregnancy is to be preferred, since it has been shown that premature birth is more harmful for the child.

“However, the existing research is based on relatively small studies, and long-term follow-up of the children is desirable. The project on Cancer during Pregnancy follows women with cancer during pregnancy, and subsequently their children right up to the age of 18 years,” states Dr Cristel Sørensen Hjortshøj, PhD, from the Department of Paediatrics at the Rigshospital.

She explains that the objective is to investigate general health, neurological and cardiological health and the occurrence of malignant disease and impaired hearing in children whose mothers had cancer during pregnancy.

“The Vissing Foundation has previously supported our research, and with the new grant we can gather even more valuable knowledge about this vulnerable group of patients,” says Cristel Sørensen Hjortshøj.