BMJ 1996; 312 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.312.7023.132 (Published 13 January 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:132

The object most likely to cause fatal choking in a child is a toy balloon. A report in JAMA (1995;274:1763-6) based on 449 children who had died from asphyxia found that balloons had caused 131 of the deaths; balls, marbles, and other toys accounted for most of the remainder, while a few were caused by coins, household goods, and hardware. Balloons caused death when children inhaled them, swallowed them, tried to blow them up, and played with fragments of burst balloons.

Evidence continues to accumulate showing that the screening programme for breast cancer in Britain will not produce the hoped for reduction in mortality from the disease. An editorial from Sweden in the “Journal of Medical Screening” (1995;2:179) says, in effect, that the high rates of interval cancers in Britain are attributable to the three year interval between examinations, the widespread use of single view mammography, and poor quality screening—but the staff “face a difficult task with at best limited resources.”

A national study in Denmark of 11 380 parents of children with cancer found that 1445 cancers had been diagnosed in the parents as compared with a total of 1496 that would have been expected from national incidences (New England Journal of Medicine 1995;333:1594-9). These reassuring figures …

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