Research: Kids of older mothers have higher risk of cancer

University of Minnesota researchers say babies born to older mothers have a slightly increased risk of developing cancer during childhood.

Previous research has hinted at this possibility, but those studies have been small. In contrast, the U of M study was much larger.

University researchers examined the birth records of more than 17,000 children diagnosed with cancer, and compared them to nearly 58,000 kids who did not have cancer.

Lead researcher Logan Spector says with every five-year increase in maternal age, the risk of childhood cancer increases about 7 to 10 percent.

"I don't think these findings should be worrisome to anyone considering having a child, because the absolute risk of childhood cancer remains so small," said Spector. "It's really not something that should factor into anybody's personal decision."

Spector said the research doesn't indicate why the risk for childhood cancer increases as mothers age. But the study found that the father's age does not seem to matter.

The results are published in the July 2009 issue of the journal Epidemiology.

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