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Abstract

In previous decades, infants who received blood transfusions shortly after birth or in utero might have been infected at a particularly vulnerable age by some blood-borne oncogen it virus. A cohort of such infants has therefore been followed into adult life to see if they suffered any excess of neoplastic disease or of non-neoplastic mortality.

A total of 12,690 infants were identified who were transfused between 1 January 1942 and 31 December 1970, in most cases for the prevention or treatment of haemolytic disease of the newborn. All but 361 (2.8%) were found to have been registered with a National Health Service (NHS) practitioner and were followed in the NHS central records until they died, emigrated, were removed from NHS lists or until 1 January 1992, whichever occurred first. Mortality and cancer incidence were compared with that expected from national rates. No marked disparity was observed and there was no excess of childhood leukaemia. The incidence of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma at 15 to 49 years of age was about twice that expected, but the excess was not statistically significant.