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Cancer during pregnancy linked to increased risk of stillbirths

Researchers in Sweden have found a link between increased risk of stillbirth and maternal cancer diagnosis. 
Cancer during pregnancy

Even though cancer during pregnancy is infrequent, maternal gestational cancer is associated with higher risks of stillbirth and neonatal mortality, according to a Swedish study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.

Researchers from Stockholms Karolinska Institute examined data from almost four million single baby births in Sweden that occurred between 1973 and 2012. Multiple births were excluded, partly because of their already-augmented risk of adverse outcomes.

Linking the data to a nationwide cancer register identified 984 births by women diagnosed with maternal cancer during pregnancy and 2,723 by women diagnosed in the year after pregnancy.

Second trimester findings

Malignant melanoma, cervical cancer and breast cancer were the most common forms of cancer diagnosed. Most were marginally diagnosed in the second trimester.

Cancer diagnosed during the mothers pregnancy was related to an increased risk of stillbirth. This relationship

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Even though cancer during pregnancy is infrequent, maternal gestational cancer is associated with higher risks of stillbirth and neonatal mortality, according to a Swedish study in the Journal of Clinical Oncology.


Picture: iStock

Researchers from Stockholm’s Karolinska Institute examined data from almost four million single baby births in Sweden that occurred between 1973 and 2012. Multiple births were excluded, partly because of their already-augmented risk of adverse outcomes.

Linking the data to a nationwide cancer register identified 984 births by women diagnosed with maternal cancer during pregnancy and 2,723 by women diagnosed in the year after pregnancy.

Second trimester findings

Malignant melanoma, cervical cancer and breast cancer were the most common forms of cancer diagnosed. Most were marginally diagnosed in the second trimester.

Cancer diagnosed during the mother’s pregnancy was related to an increased risk of stillbirth. This relationship was limited principally to stillbirths where the fetus was judged to have been small-for-gestational-age at birth.

Maternal cancer diagnosed during pregnancy was not necessarily associated with an increased risk of premature delivery. The risk of iatrogenic preterm births was higher irrespective of the presence of associated pregnancy complications.


Donghao, L, Ludvigsson J, Smedby K et al (2017) Maternal cancer during pregnancy and risks of stillbirth and infant mortality. Journal of Clinical Oncology doi:/full/10.1200/JCO.2016.69.9439

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