EMF Health-effects Research

Use of wireless telephones and self-reported health symptoms: a population-based study among Swedish adolescents aged 15-19 years,

Soderqvist F, Carlberg M, Hardell L

Environ Health, May 21;7(1):18 2008

[Epub ahead of print]

BACKGROUND: Despite the last years of rapid increase in use of wireless phones little data on the use of these devices has been systematically assessed among young persons. The aim of this descriptive cross-sectional study was to assess use of wireless phones and to study such use in relation to explanatory factors and self-reported health symptoms.

METHODS: A postal questionnaire comprising 8 pages of 27 questions with 75 items in total was sent to 2000 Swedish adolescents aged 15-19 years and selected from the population registry using a stratified sampling scheme.

RESULTS: The questionnaire was answered by 63.5 % of the study subjects. Most participants reported access to a mobile phone (99.6%) and use increased with age; 55.6% of the 15-year-olds and 82.2% of the 19-year-olds were regular users. Girls generally reported more frequent use than boys. Use of wired hands-free equipment 'anytime' was reported by 17.4%. Cordless phones were used by 81.9%, and 67.3% were regular users.

Watching TV increased the odds ratio for use of wireless phones, adjusted for age and gender. Some of the most frequently reported health complaints were tiredness, stress, headache, anxiety, concentration difficulties and sleep disturbances. Regular users of wireless phones had health symptoms more often and reported poorer perceived health than less frequent users.

CONCLUSIONS: Almost all adolescence in this study used a wireless phone, girls more than boys. The most frequent use was seen among the older adolescents and those who watched TV extensively. The study further showed that perceived health and certain health symptoms seemed to be related to the use of wireless phones. However, this part of the investigation was explorative and should therefore be interpreted with caution since bias and chance findings due to multiple testing might have influenced the results. Potentially this study will stimulate more sophisticated studies that may also investigate directions of associations and whether, or to what degree, any mediation factors are involved.

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