28/09/2011 17:12 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Chemotherapy Does Not Harm Unborn Babies, Says New Study

Chemotherapy is safe during pregnancy claim researchers

New research by cancer specialists has found that chemotherapy does not harm unborn babies.

Scientists discovered the powerful chemotherapy drugs appear not to have an affect on a developing foetus - but delivering babies early to avoid exposure to the drugs does.

Dr. Frederic Amant, who led the research at the University Hospitals Leuven in Belgium spoke of his findings at the European Multidisciplinary Cancer Congress (EMCC) in Stockholm, saying:

"The data suggest the children suffer more from prematurity than from prenatal chemotherapy."

He added that his findings suggest there is no need for pregnant women with cancer to have terminations or delay their chemotherapy treatment beyond the first trimester, but stressed that doctors should avoid inducing early birth if at all possible.

Dr Amant said that in his experience, many women decide to have an abortion because they assume the cancer treatment will harm their baby.

He added that medics too often advise pregnant women to either delay their treatment plan or have an induced early delivery.

However, his finding suggest that if chemotherapy is given after the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy, only a fraction of the drugs pass through the placenta and appear to have no health impact on the babies' development.