Epidemiological Study (cross-sectional study)
Exposure to radio-frequency electromagnetic fields and behavioural problems in Bavarian children and adolescents. epidemiol. By: Thomas S, Heinrich S, von Kries R, Radon K
Published in: Eur J Epidemiol 2010; 25 (2): 135 - 141 ( PubMed Entry , Journal web site )
Aim of study (according to author)
A cross-sectional study was conducted in Germany to investigate the possible association of exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields and behavioural problems in children and adolescents.
The mental health behaviour was assessed by the German version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire which covers positive and negative attributes of behaviour. The children and their parents respectively the adolescents filled in the questionnaires.
Acute symptoms of the same study population were analyzed in Heinrich et al (2010) and chronic symptoms in Heinrich et al (2011).
Endpoint/type of risk estimation
Estimate of prevalence by odds ratio (OR)
- overall behavioural problems (emotional problems, conduct problems, hyperactivity, and peer relationship problems)
groups of exposure:
- mobile communication system, digital mobile phone, cell phone base station, GSM, UMTS, radio frequency field, DECT, W-LAN/WiFi, personal exposure
- type of exposure: personal
- assessment by questionnaire (mobile phone ownership, use of mobile phone and cordless phone, estimated distance to the next base station)
- assessment by dosimeter (24-hours measurement: personal dosimeter)
- assessment by calculation (based on field strength for 3 frequency ranges (GSM 900; GSM 1800, UMTS and DECT; WLAN) during waking hours)
|Reference group 1: || quartile 1 for children: 0.13 - 0.15 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 2: || quartile 2 for children: 0.15 - 0.17 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 3: || quartile 3 for children: 0.17 - 0.20 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 4: || quartile 4 for children: 0.20 - 0.92 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|Reference group 5: || quartile 1 for adolescents: 0.13 - 0.15 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 6: || quartile 2 for adolescents: 0.15 - 0.17 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 7: || quartile 3 for adolescents: 0.17 - 0.21 % of ICNIRP reference level |
|group 8: || quartile 4 for adolescents: 0.21 - 0.78 % of ICNIRP reference level |
Study group: children, aged from 8 to 17 years
Group characteristics: children (aged between 8 and 12 years) and adolescents (aged between 13 and 17 years)
Observation period: 2006 - 2008
Study location: Germany (4 Bavarian cities)
Source of data: registration offices
Further parameters acquired by questionnaire (sociodemographic characteristics, level of education)
Remark: 1498 children and 1524 adolescents participated in interview and exposure measurement
|Study size || |
|number total ||6,396|
|number eligible ||5,870|
|number participating ||3,022|
|rate of participating ||52%|
Statistical analysis using logistic regression (adjusted for age, sex, residential area, education, self-reported environmental worries and general radiofrequency exposure)
Results/conclusion (according to author)
Exposure to mobile phone frequencies assessed by personal dosimetry was far below the ICNIRP reference level in a range from 0.13 % to 0.92 % of the ICNIRP reference level during waking hours. Altogether 7 % of the children and 5 % of the adolescents showed overall behavioural problems.
Adolescents in the highest exposure group showed statistically significant more overall behavioural problems (OR 2.2, CI 1.1-4.5) whereas this result was not observed for children in the highest exposure group. An analysis of the behaviour subgroups showed an association between the highest exposure group and conduct problems for adolescents (OR 3.7, CI 1.6-8.4) and for children (OR 2.9, CI 1.4-5.9). The authors concluded that more studies were warranted to confirm the findings.
(Study character: epidemiological study, cross-sectional study)
Study funded by
- Deutsches Mobilfunk Forschungsprogramm (DMF; German Mobile Phone Research Programme) at Federal Office for Radiation Protection (BfS)
- Byun YH et al. (2013): Mobile phone use, blood lead levels, and attention deficit hyperactivity...
- Sudan M et al. (2012): Prenatal and Postnatal Cell Phone Exposures and Headaches in Children.
- Divan HA et al. (2012): Cell phone use and behavioural problems in young children.
- Divan HA et al. (2011): Prenatal cell phone use and developmental milestone delays among infants.
- Heinrich S et al. (2011): The impact of exposure to radio frequency electromagnetic fields on chronic...
- Milde-Busch A et al. (2010): The association between use of electronic media and prevalence of headache in...
- Heinrich S et al. (2010): Association between exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields assessed...
- Kühnlein A et al. (2009): Personal exposure to mobile communication networks and well-being in...
- Divan HA et al. (2008): Prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioral problems in...
- Thomas S et al. (2008): Personal exposure to mobile phone frequencies and well-being in adults: a...
- Söderqvist F et al. (2008): Use of wireless telephones and self-reported health symptoms: a...
- Preece AW et al. (2005): Effect of 902 MHz mobile phone transmission on cognitive function in children.
- Haarala C et al. (2005): Electromagnetic field emitted by 902 MHz mobile phones shows no effects on...
Glossary: acute, adolescents, base station, behaviour, children, chronic, CI, cordless phone, cross-sectional study, DECT, digital, dosimeter, dosimetry, electromagnetic fields, emotional, epidemiological, exposure, field strength, frequencies, GSM, health, hyperactivity, ICNIRP, logistic regression, mental, mobile communication, mobile phone, OR, population, prevalence, questionnaire, radiofrequency, reference level, significant, statistically, symptoms, UMTS, WiFi, WLAN
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