Monday, 29 August 2016
MOBILE TELECOMMUNICATIONS HEALTH AND SAFETY NEWS

New sleep lab to check if mobile phone signals effect kids brains


Croft on phone
Professor Rodney Croft
A new research laboratory will be set up at Wollongong University to investigate if mobile phone signals have any effect on children’s brain activity while they sleep.

 
The $700,000 study forms part of the federal government’s new $2.5 million research project announced in August by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC).
 
The study will expose children to a mobile phone, or the equivalent electromagnetic energy, and look for changes in the electrical activity in the brain during a normal night’s sleep.
 
Illawarra Health and Medical Research Institute psychologist Rodney Croft, who is leading the research, said phones had become ubiquitous but evidence of their harmlessness to children was lacking.
 
“There’s a pretty strong consensus that there’s not a problem in adults, but people have only started doing research on children in the last five years and very little has come out of it,” Professor croft said.
 
“We’ve got no reason to believe that there’ll be a greater effect in children than in adults.
 
“But we just don’t understand well enough the maturational phases that children go through, so it’s possible there’s greater sensitivity.”
 
Researchers are recruiting 108 children for tests to start next year, which will expose children to a mobile phone, or the equivalent electromagnetic energy, and look for changes in the electrical activity in the brain during a normal night’s sleep.
 
Researchers want to recruit 36 children in each of three age groups: 10-12, 13-15 and 16-18.
 
Professor Croft was also part of a 2012 study on the effects of mobile phone calls before bedtime which confirmed the results of an earlier Australian study that showed no effect on the overall quality of sleep.
 
The original study undertaken in 2005 by lead researcher Dr Sarah Loughran compared the brain waves of volunteers not exposed to mobiles before sleep with people exposed to mobile phone signals.
 
For two consecutive nights, volunteers were exposed for 30 minutes to a mobile phone, positioned in a cradle next to their head, before going to sleep.
 
On one night the phone was continuously transmitting and on the other it was turned off - a so-called ‘sham control’. The volunteers didn’t know whether the phone was turned on or not.
 
“The results show that there is an increase in brain wave activity in the first part of sleep. It was an increase in what’s known as alpha brain wave activity and at this stage, we’re not entirely sure what this means,” Dr Loughran said.
 
Nevertheless, Dr Loughran said getting a good night’s sleep did not appear to be affected by the mobile phone radiation.
 
“We didn’t find any changes in the amount of time it takes to get to sleep or the total time they slept,” Dr Loughran said.
 
Dr Loughran repeated the experiment with Professor Croft on the same participants and found similar results, in the second study published in Bioelectromagnetics in 2012.
 
Brainwave monitoring during sleep showed, in keeping with the previous findings, that exposure to mobile phones did not affect the overall quality of sleep but it once again increased EEG activity during the first 30 minutes of non-rapid eye movement (non-REM) sleep.
Published 6 November 2013

Bookmark and Share

www.amta.org.au

©2012