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Childhood epilepsy risk with mobile phones

4 December, 2000

Children who use mobile phones risk epilepsy, and suffering from headaches, memory loss and sleeping disorders, according to a report published in the medical journal The Lancet.

Dr Gerard Hyland, from the Department of Physics at Warwick University, writes that further research should be undertaken into the effects of radiation for both phone users and those living close to mobile phone base stations.

A quarter of Britain's 30 million mobile phone users are under 18 years of age and, with companies increasingly marketing their phones at young people, Dr Hyland warns that pre-adolescent children can be expected to be more vulnerable to adverse health effects than adults because of the "greater ease with which radiation can penetrate the thinner skull of an infant" adding that "the immune system, whose efficacy is degraded by this kind of radiation, is less robust in children".

BEA's Medical Advisor, Dr Tim Betts, Consultant Neuropsychiatrist at the Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Hospital in Birmingham commented on the research:

"In our [QEPH] overnight EEG monitoring service we have many times observed our patients using mobile phones with no apparent effects of their epilepsy. It would be pertinent ... to suggest that children with epilepsy, 14 and under, should be actively discouraged from using mobile phones and that anyone with epilepsy should consider, until the picture is clearer, restricting their use of them to short conversations and monitor their seizure frequency if they are using them a lot - the advice that one would give any child or adult. People using Vagal Nerve Stimulators should keep their mobile phone away from the device and not have it in direct contact with the implanted device (e.g. in a pocket over the device). This is the advice given to people with cardiac pacemakers."