BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7077.386 (Published 01 February 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:386

The peak in the incidence of childhood leukaemia at 3-4 years has stimulated many hypotheses, and though none has yet proved convincing, the theories often cause considerable concern. One recent suggestion was that the disease might be associated with high intensity lighting in neonatal nurseries. The excellent medical record systems in Denmark allowed the hypothesis to be investigated in 55 000 children treated with phototherapy for hyperbilirubinaemia (Cancer Causes and Control 1996;7:411-4). Eighty seven developed a cancer, including 34 who developed leukaemia–figures very similar to those in the general population. Phototherapy joins the long list of leukaemia suspects found not guilty.

The more often Minerva reads Eurosurveillance the more variations she finds in medical practice within the European Union. A round up on immunisation (1997;2:2-4) explains, for example, that in Austria, Belgium, Germany, Greece, and Spain many vaccinations are given by the private sector and coverage is assessed mainly by estimating the number of imported or distributed vaccines. The latest data show the substantial problems that many countries have to face if they are to reach the World Health Organisation's target that by 2000 there should be no indigenous cases of polio, diphtheria, neonatal tetanus, measles, mumps, …

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