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Stillbirth risk ‘higher for girls treated for cancer’

Women cancer survivors who had radiation treatment as children are far more likely than average to lose a baby, research has shown.

Scientists found that radiotherapy to the pelvic region during childhood increased a mother's risk of stillbirth or infant death up to 12 times.

Exposure to high dose radiation was thought to affect blood flow and growth of the womb, leading to the tragic outcomes.

The same US study, led by Professor John Boice, from the International Epidemiology Institute in Rockville, Maryland, showed that radiotherapy for testicular cancer had no similar impact on boys, researchers wrote in the online edition of The Lancet.

The study found that exposure of the womb and ovaries to high-dose radiation raised the risk of stillbirth and infant death nine times.

For girls treated for cancer before puberty, radiotherapy at relatively low doses led to an almost five-fold increase in risk. When higher doses were used, the risk was increased 12 times.

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