Neuroblastoma after prenatal exposure to phenytoin: Cause and effect?

Gideon Koren, Demitri Demitrakoudis, Rosanna Weksberg, Michael Rieder, Neil H. Shear, Marylin Sonely, Barry Shandling, Stephen P. Spielberg

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


We evaluated the causality of the association between intrauterine exposure to phenytoin and postnatal neuroblastoma using an in vitro lymphocyte toxicity assay for phenytoin‐induced reactions in an unusual sibship. In addition, we investigated intrauterine phenytoin exposure in a case series of infants and children with neuroblastoma diagnosed over 17 years at our center. The response of lymphocytes from our index case with neuroblastoma exposed in utero to phenytoin was within the normal range, whereas the mother and a sibling with fetal hydantoin syndrome (FHS) exhibited an intermediate toxicity. None of the 188 case of childhood neuroblastoma diagnosed between 1969 and 1988 had been exposed in utero to phenytoin, indicating that, statistically, the drug cannot be associated with neuroblastoma in more than two cases with this malignancy in our cohort, or in 1.5% of all cases of neuroblastoma. Although our data do not suggest an association between phenytoin in pregnancy and postnatal neuroblastoma, it is still possible that there is an increased risk for neuroblastoma in children with FHS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-162
Number of pages6
Issue number2
StatePublished - Aug 1989
Externally publishedYes


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