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Member Research & Reports

Member Research & Reports

WashU: Birth Defects, Cancer Linked

Some children born with birth defects may be at increased risk for specific types of cancer, according to a new literature review from the Washington University in St. Louis – Brown School Public Health Programs.

In the first systematic and most comprehensive review on the topic, researchers analyzed articles reporting data from 80 studies conducted around the world. They found an increased risk for certain cancers among children born with birth defects.

More than 14,000 children in the U.S. are diagnosed with cancer each year.

Identifying and understanding connections between abnormal fetal or childhood development and cancer will have implications for personalizing the treatment of children, according to the study’s lead author, Dr. Kimberly Johnson, associate professor in epidemiology at WashU. Advances in gene sequencing may provide even better identification of children with birth defects who are at high risk of cancer.

[Photo: Dr. Kimberly Johnson]

“This work provides a foundation for future investigations that are needed to clarify specific birth-defect types predisposing toward malignancy and possible underlying causes of both birth defects and malignancy,” she wrote.

The study was published July 27 in PLOS ONE.

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