Eur J Epidemiol. 2010 Feb;25(2):135-41. doi: 10.1007/s10654-009-9408-x. Epub 2009 Dec 4.
Thomas S1, Heinrich S, von Kries R, Radon K.
1Unit for Occupational and Environmental Epidemiology & NetTeaching, Institute and Outpatient Clinic for Occupational, Social and Environmental Medicine, Hospital of the Ludwig-Maximilians-University, Ziemssenstrasse 1, Munich, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Received: 2 October 2009
Accepted: 23 November 2009
Published online: 4 December 2009
Radio-frequency electromagnetic fields
Only few studies have so far investigated possible health effects of radio-frequency electromagnetic fields (RF EMF) in children and adolescents, although experts discuss a potential higher vulnerability to such fields. We aimed to investigate a possible association between measured exposure to RF EMF fields and behavioural problems in children and adolescents. 1,498 children and 1,524 adolescents were randomly selected from the population registries of four Bavarian (South of Germany) cities. During an Interview data on participants’ mental health, socio-demographic characteristics and potential confounders were collected. Mental health behaviour was assessed using the German version of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). Using a personal dosimeter, we obtained radio-frequency EMF exposure profiles over 24 h. Exposure levels over waking hours were expressed as mean percentage of the reference level. Overall, exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields was far below the reference level. Seven percent of the children and 5% of the adolescents showed an abnormal mental behaviour. In the multiple logistic regression analyses measured exposure to RF fields in the highest quartile was associated to overall behavioural problems for adolescents (OR 2.2; 95% CI 1.1-4.5) but not for children (1.3; 0.7-2.6). These results are mainly driven by one subscale, as the results showed an association between exposure and conduct problems for adolescents (3.7; 1.6-8.4) and children (2.9; 1.4-5.9). As this is one of the first studies that investigated an association between exposure to mobile telecommunication networks and mental health behaviour more studies using personal dosimetry are warranted to confirm these findings.