Mobile phone use and health symptoms in children

J Formos Med Assoc. 2015 Jul;114(7):598-604. doi: 10.1016/j.jfma.2014.07.002. Epub 2014 Aug 10.


Background/purpose: To investigate the mobile phone (MP) use for talking in relation to health symptoms among 2042 children aged 11-15 years in Taiwan.

Methods: A nationwide, cross-sectional study, using the computer assisted telephone interview (CATI) technique, was conducted in 2009 to collect information on children's utilization of MPs and the perceived health symptoms reported by their parents.

Results: The overall prevalence of MP use in the past month was estimated at 63.2% [95% confidence interval (CI) = 61.1-65.3%]. MP use was associated with a significantly increased adjusted odds ratio (AOR) for headaches and migraine (1.42, 95% CI = 1.12-1.81) and skin itches (1.84, 95% CI = 1.47-2.29). Children who regularly used MPs were also considered to have a health status worse than it was 1 year ago (β = 0.27, 95% CI = 0.17-0.37).

Conclusion: Although the cross-sectional design precludes the causal inference for the observed association, our study tended to suggest a need for more cautious use of MPs in children, because children are expected to experience a longer lifetime exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) from MPs.

Keywords: cross-sectional study; electromagnetic fields; exposure assessment; radiofrequency; subjective symptoms.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Cell Phone / statistics & numerical data*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Electromagnetic Fields / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Migraine Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Pruritus / epidemiology*
  • Radio Waves / adverse effects*
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Taiwan / epidemiology
  • Telephone