Mobile phone use, behavioural problems and concentration capacity in adolescents: A prospective study.


The aim of this study is to prospectively investigate whether exposure to radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) emitted by mobile phones and other wireless communication devices is related to behavioural problems or concentration capacity in adolescents. The HERMES (Health Effects Related to Mobile phonE use in adolescentS) study sample consisted of 439 Swiss adolescents aged 12-17 years. Behavioural problems were assessed using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ), concentration capacity of the adolescents was measured by means of a standardized computerized cognitive test named FAKT. Cross-sectional and longitudinal (1year of follow-up) analyses were performed to investigate possible associations between behavioural problems and concentration capacity and different exposure measures: self-reported and operator-recorded wireless communication device use, cumulative RF-EMF brain and whole body dose and measured personal RF-EMF exposure. In the cross-sectional analyses behavioural problems were associated with several self-reported wireless device use measures but not operator-recorded mobile phone use measures, concentration capacity was associated with several self-reported and operator-recorded exposures. The longitudinal analyses point towards absence of associations. The lack of consistent exposure-response patterns in the longitudinal analyses suggests that behavioural problems and concentration capacity are not affected by the use of wireless communication devices or RF-EMF exposure. Information bias and reverse causality are likely explanations for the observed cross-sectional findings.