Childhood Leukemia Following Phototherapy for Neonatal Hyperbilirubinemia (Denmark)

Cancer Causes Control. 1996 Jul;7(4):411-4. doi: 10.1007/BF00052666.


To test the hypothesis that exposure to high intensity lightning (around 400 nanometers) in neonatal nurseries increases the incidence of childhood leukemia, over 55,120 newborn children treated with phototherapy for hyperbilirubinemia were identified from the Danish Hospital Discharge Register for 1977-89. Linkage of the roster with the national cancer registry through 1991 revealed 87 childhood cancers, whereas 85 were expected from the rates for the general population. The incidence of leukemia in 34 children was not unusual (standardized incidence ratio [SIR] = 1.2, 95 percent confidence interval [CI] = 0.8-1.7). Subgroup analyses revealed no remarkable patterns for any category of leukemia subtype, gender, or age at diagnosis. We conclude that whole-body exposure to phototherapy (420-470 nm) shortly after birth is not a significant risk factor for childhood leukemia.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Age Factors
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Denmark / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Jaundice, Neonatal / therapy*
  • Male
  • Odds Ratio
  • Phototherapy*
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / classification
  • Precursor Cell Lymphoblastic Leukemia-Lymphoma / epidemiology*
  • Registries
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Whole-Body Irradiation