Baby study authors call for caution in interpreting surprise results

The authors of a paper claiming a link between mobile phone use and child behaviour warn that the results were unexpected and should be interpreted with caution, the Australian Mobile Telecommunications Association (AMTA) said today.

AMTA Chief Executive Officer, Chris Althaus, said mobile phone emission levels were very low and the study’s authors caution that the findings need replication because factors other than mobile phone use could have produced the results.

The paper, Prenatal and Postnatal Exposure to Cell Phone Use and Behavioural Problems in Children, was published online in Epidemiology.

The authors said lower social occupational status, increased history of mental disorder, neurosis, psychiatric illness, smoking while pregnant and a lack of attention to children by mothers could explain the study’s findings.

The authors stated in the paper and subsequent interviews:

These results were unexpected and should be interpreted with caution. Observed associations are not necessarily causal.

We have no known biological mechanism to explain these associations, and confounding by unmeasured causes of behavioural problems could have produced these results.

Mr Althaus said the study’s authors had noted the results were unexpected and exposure to a foetus from a mobile phone is likely to be extremely low.

Scientific evidence does not indicate the need for special precautions for either adults or children in the use of mobile phones, he said.

Mr Althaus said the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice was:

None of the recent reviews have concluded that exposure to RF (radio frequency) fields from mobile phones and their base stations cause any adverse health consequences.

Mr Althaus said the mobile phone industry takes all questions regarding safety of mobile phones seriously and it has a strong commitment to supporting ongoing scientific research.

For more information contact Randal Markey, AMTA, (02) 62396555 or 0421240550