Experts on mobile phones and child behaviour

A newly published paper has drawn a link between regular mobile phone use by pregnant women before and after their child is born, and later behavioural problems shown by the child, particularly if they begin using mobile phones early, too.

The paper, “Cell phone use and behavioural problems in young children”,  was published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, and uses the results from 28,000 seven year olds and their mothers, as part of the Danish National Cohort study.

The  UK SMC gathered comment from experts on the results.

Prof David Spiegelhalter, Professor of Biostatistics at the University of Cambridge, comments:

“I am sceptical of these results, even though they will get a lot of publicity.  One finding is that very young children who use mobile phones show more behavioural disorders: this may well be the case, but is it plausible that the first causes the second?  The authors suggest that precautionary measures may be warranted because they have ‘virtually no cost’, but they ignore the cost of giving intrusive health advice based on inadequate science.”

Prof David Coggon, Professor of Occupational and Environmental Medicine at the University of Southampton, comments:

“This study appears to have been well conducted, but the pattern of results suggests that the observed increase in behavioural problems may have been caused by factors other than mobile phone use.”

Prof Patricia McKinney, Emeritus Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the University of Leeds, comments:

“The conclusions from this large study, associating behavioural problems in very young children with mobile phone use, over-interpret the results.  There is no scientific basis for investigating exposure of the growing baby when pregnant mothers use a mobile phone, as exposure to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones is highly localised to the part of the head closest to the phone; there is no evidence to suggest that other parts of the body, such as the abdomen where the baby is growing, are affected by mobile phone use.

“We also have no evidence that a pregnant mother’s behaviour is related to her mobile phone use and thereby affecting her baby.  The risks linked to prenatal exposure are therefore questionable.”