- Children with nonchromosomal birth defects have a 2.6 times higher risk of developing a childhood cancer.
- Specific nonchromosomal birth defects are associated with specific childhood cancers.
Why this matters
- Children with a chromosomal birth defect, such as Down syndrome, have a known increased risk of cancer; less is understood about the relationship between nonchromosomal birth defects and the risk of cancer.
- 1 in 33 children are born with a birth defect, and most have no known chromosome or genetic cause.
- Categories of birth defects:
- Chromosomal anomalies;
- Single-gene syndrome (Costello syndrome);
- Nonsyndromic (cleft lip, congenital heart disease).
- The goal of this study is to understand the relationship between nonchromosomal birth defects and cancer to identify children who will benefit from early cancer detection and surveillance.
- This was a population-based retrospective study.
- Registry data from Texas, Michigan, North Carolina, and Arkansas from 1992 to 2013 identified 517,548 children with nonchromosomal birth defects; 14,774 of these children had cancer.
- Children with a nonchromosomal birth defect have a 2.6 times higher risk of any cancer.
- Children with ventricular septal defects have a 10-fold increased risk of hepatoblastoma.
- Children with craniocynostosis have a 3-fold increased risk of neuroblastoma.
- Those with right ventricular outflow tract defects have a 7-fold increased risk of neuroblastoma.
- The study’s lead author, Jeremy M. Schraw, PhD, stated, “This study cannot establish a cause-and-effect relationship between birth defects and childhood cancers, and it is much too soon to make clinical recommendations based on this information.”
- “We do hope our findings spur additional inquiries into these associations, so that we may better understand the biology underlying these associations.”