NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - There may be an association
between childhood cancer and birthmarks, according to a new
Minor malformations, such as birthmarks, may reflect
"altered prenatal development," which could also increase the
risk developing cancer, Dr. Julie A. Ross, of the University of
Minnesota, Minneapolis, and colleagues point out in the medical
journal Pediatrics. In addition, children with certain
leukemias and soft tissue tumors have been shown to have "a
significant increased frequency of birthmarks."
To further investigate this relationship, the researchers
used data from a cohort for 49,503 children born between 1959
and 1966. Birthmarks were documented as definite or suspected
during the first year of life and included strawberry
birthmarks, port-wine stains, pigmented moles, and café-au-lait
Overall, 2505 children had a documented definite or
suspected birthmark. Out of the whole group, 47 children were
diagnosed with cancer before age 8 years and seven of these had
a definite or suspected birthmark.
When all cancers were included, having a birthmark was
associated with a threefold increased likelihood of developing
cancer. The team notes that birthmarks did not appear to be
associated with any specific type of childhood cancer.
Because of the small number of cancer cases, it's possible
that the findings could have arisen by chance, Dr. Ross's group
notes. Nonetheless, they hope the results may lead to insights
into the cause of childhood malignancies.
SOURCE: Pediatrics, May 2007.