Compared to children who do not have cancer and are not treated for cancers, those children with cancer appear to suffer from delays in their development, notably they progress more slowly in the areas of vocabulary, attention, memory and motors skills.
Fortunately, the studies indicate that cancer did not affect social and emotional development. The same was true among very young children with cancer and their ability to respond to their parents and engage in make-believe.
These conclusions come from the first prospective study of its kind to investigate the possible effects of having cancer on the development of very young children. This is especially relevant in hematology oncology, where childhood leukemia can be common.
The study was carried out by the Child and Family Research at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).