Radiofrequency electromagnetic fields, screen time, and emotional and behavioural problems in 5-year-old children.

Author: Guxens M1, Vermeulen R2, Steenkamer I3, Beekhuizen J4, Vrijkotte TGM5, Kromhout H4, Huss A4
Author Information:
1Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80178, 3508, TD, Utrecht, the Netherlands; ISGlobal, C/ Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Pompeu Fabra University, C/ Doctor Aiguader 88, 08003, Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain; Spanish Consortium for Research on Epidemiology and Public Health (CIBERESP), Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Av. de Monforte de Lemos,5, 28029, Madrid, Spain; Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry/Psychology, Erasmus University Medical Centre-Sophia Children's Hospital, PO Box 2060, 3000, CB, Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Electronic address: monica.guxens@isglobal.org.
2Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80178, 3508, TD, Utrecht, the Netherlands; Julius Centre for Public Health Sciences and Primary Care, University Medical Centre, PO Box 85500, 3508, GA, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
3Department of Epidemiology, Health Promotion, and Healthcare Innovation, Public Health Service of Amsterdam (GGD), PO Box 2200, 1000, CE, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
4Institute for Risk Assessment Sciences, Division of Environmental Epidemiology, Utrecht University, PO Box 80178, 3508, TD, Utrecht, the Netherlands.
5Department of Public Health, Amsterdam Public Health Research Institute, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 9, 1105, AZ, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.
Conference/Journal: Int J Hyg Environ Health.
Date published: 2018 Oct 9
Other: Pages: S1438-4639(18)30502-9 , Special Notes: doi: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.09.006. [Epub ahead of print] , Word Count: 355


BACKGROUND: Little is known about the exposure of young children to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) and potentially associated health effects. We assessed the relationship of RF-EMF exposure from different sources and screen time exposure with emotional and behavioural problems in 5-year-old children.

METHODS: Cross-sectional study including 3102 children aged 5 years from the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development (ABCD) study, in the Netherlands. Residential RF-EMF exposure from mobile phone base stations was estimated with a 3D geospatial radio wave propagation model. Residential presence of RF-EMF indoor sources (cordless phone base stations and Wireless Fidelity (WiFi)), children's mobile phone and cordless phone calls and screen time exposure (computer/video game and television watching) was reported by the mother. Teachers (n = 2617) and mothers (n = 3019) independently reported child emotional and behavioural problems using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire.

RESULTS: No associations were found between mobile phone and cordless phone calls and emotional and behavioural problems. Children exposed to higher RF-EMF levels from mobile phone base stations showed higher odds of maternal-reported emotional symptoms (OR 1.82, 95%CI 1.07 to 3.09). Children with cordless phone at home had lower odds of teacher-reported problematic prosocial behaviour (OR 0.68, 95%CI 0.48 to 0.97) and of maternal-reported peer relationship problems (OR 0.61, 95% CI 0.39 to 0.96). Children who watched television ≥1.5 h/day had higher odds of maternal-reported hyperactivity/inattention (OR 3.13, 95%CI 1.43 to 6.82).

CONCLUSION: Mobile phone and cordless phone calls, which lead to peak RF-EMF exposures to the head, were not associated with any emotional and behavioural problems in 5-year-old children. Environmental RF-EMF exposure from mobile phone base stations and from indoor sources and television watching, which both contribute very little to RF-EMF exposure, were associated with specific emotional and behavioural problems but mainly when reported by the mothers. We cannot, however, discard residual confounding or reverse causality. Further longitudinal research in particular as children will increase the use of telecommunication devices with the age may help to better understand the exact contribution of the different RF-EMF exposure sources if any. Moreover, a thorough control for confounding is essential for a correct interpretation of the studies on screen time and emotional and behavioural problems.

Copyright © 2018 Elsevier GmbH. All rights reserved.

PMID: 30314943 DOI: 10.1016/j.ijheh.2018.09.006

BACK