What causes childhood leukaemia? Some beliefs of parents of affected children

William McWhirter, Debbie Scott

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The theories of parents about the cause of their children's leukaemia have been documented in the course of a case-control study. From a sample of 175 children who were diagnosed as having acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, 91.4% of their parents put forward their theories. Some of these theories were related clearly to material that had been published and therefore had some scientific validity. Other theories often had no apparent scientific basis. Persons who are involved in the care of children with leukaemia should be aware of the wide variety of theories that are held by their parents so that they may provide counselling which could be of help in the relief of feelings of anxiety or guilt among the parents. Parents should always be afforded the opportunity to put forward their own theories so that they may be discussed on a rational basis. It is conceivable that some parents might put forward new hypotheses about leukaemogenesis that could be tested scientifically.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)314-316
Number of pages3
JournalThe Medical Journal of Australia
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 1986
Externally publishedYes


  • leukaemia, parental beliefs

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