Purpose: The incidence and consequences of pregnancy during therapy for childhood acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) are largely unknown. To explore the issues involved in this complication of ALL treatment, two recent cases are presented.
Patients: Two 15-year-old girls with “high risk” ALL became pregnant while receiving maintenance therapy.
Results: In one case, the patient experienced a spontaneous abortion at approximately 5 to 6 weeks gestation. The patient completed maintenance therapy and is in remission 8 months after the end of treatment. The second patient, known to be non-compliant during therapy, was found to be 5 months pregnant at the end of maintenance therapy. She developed HELLP syndrome (hemolysis, elevated liver enzymes, and low platelet count), was induced at approximately 34 weeks, and delivered an apparently normal baby girl. Both the patient and her baby continue to do well 10 months after delivery.
Conclusions: A variety of factors may influence the incidence of pregnancy during ALL therapy. Gonadal function, which is likely to return to normal during maintenance therapy, may also be affected by alterations in the dose intensity of treatment. Social factors may also alter the incidence of pregnancy. Adverse effects on the fetus are more likely to occur in the first trimester, depending on the drug or drugs used. Although all chemotherapies may have mutagenic and teratogenic effects, they do not invariably cause abnormalities. Survival of adolescents who become pregnant during treatment does not appear to be adversely affected when therapy is not modified or discontinued.