In These New Times

Mobile phone child safety guidelines ‘to be dropped’


Using a mobile phone is no more harmful for children than taking a hot bath or exercising, according to a new government health leaflet.


By Chris Irvine

01 Sep 2009

At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than four in 10 primary schoolchildren.
Current advice from the Department of Health had said that research showed mobile phone use “affects brain activity”, although it conceded there were “significant gaps in our scientific knowledge”.
But a draft of a new advisory leaflet for parents now makes clear that precautions need not be taken when it comes to children.

According to The Daily Mail, the draft says: “There is currently no scientific or biological evidence that radio waves cause cancer.”
Whereas overheating of the brain was considered a concern before, the new advice now says “mild heating is not a health problem. Body heating is normal and happens with exercise or in a hot bath with no ill effects.”
The new guidelines however have provoked a response from health campaigners.
Alasdair Philips, from Powerwatch, who specialise in the Microwave Radiation health debate, said children under 10 “should not use a mobile, full stop.”
“A number of international studies have found a significant increase in brain tumours among people who have used a cellphone for more than 10 years,” he said.
“It’s incredible that the notion there is no good reason to restrict children’s use of mobile phones could be the official Government line. This would be completely irresponsible and immoral.
“Parents are under pressure to buy mobiles for their children at younger and younger ages. By doing this they may well be giving them brain tumours in 30 years’ time.
“The Government seems to be more interested in axe revenue from mobile phone calls – which is about £15 billion per year now – than in the protection of public health.”
A Department of Health spokesman said that Mobile Phones and Health leaflet, published in 2005, remained their “current position”. It recommended a precautionary approach, adding “because the head and nervous system are still developing in teenagers, children and young people might be more vulnerable than adults.”
A study last September suggested that children and teenagers were five times more likely to get brain cancer if they used mobile phones.
At least nine out of 10 British 16-year-olds have their own handset, as do more than four in 10 primary schoolchildren.