TUESDAY, Nov. 23, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Exposure to 17α-hydroxyprogesterone caproate (17-OHPC) in the first trimester is associated with an increased risk for cancer in offspring, according to a study published online Nov. 8 in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Caitlin C. Murphy, Ph.D., M.P.H., from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, and colleagues examined the correlation between in utero exposure to 17-OHPC and risk for cancer in offspring in a population-based cohort study. More than 18,000 mother-child dyads receiving prenatal care between 1959 and 1966 were included; incident cancers diagnosed in offspring were ascertained through 2019.

The researchers found that during 730,817 person-years of follow-up, 1,008 offspring were diagnosed with cancer. Overall, 234 offspring were exposed in utero to 17-OHPC. The risk for any cancer was increased with exposure in the first trimester (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.57), and risk also increased with number of injections (adjusted hazard ratios, 1.80 for one to two injections; 3.07 for at least three injections). Additional risk was conferred for male offspring — but not female offspring — with exposure in the second or third trimester (adjusted hazard ratio, 2.59). Compared with offspring who were not exposed, those exposed to 17-OHCA in the first trimester had increased risks for colorectal, prostate, and pediatric brain cancer (adjusted hazard ratios, 5.51, 5.10, and 34.72, respectively).

“Our findings suggest taking this drug during pregnancy can disrupt early development, which may increase risk of cancer decades later,” Murphy said in a statement.

One author disclosed ties to Freenome.

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