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The Cavi Society

  Children As Victims Inquiry


Mobile phones 'should not be used by under 12s' says scientist launching 30-year study into health risks

Last updated at 8:51 AM on 23rd April 2010

Children should not use mobile phones, a leading Government adviser warned last night.

Professor Lawrie Challis said children were not ‘little adults’ and that they should not be given mobiles until they were at least 12.

Even then teenagers should use their phones to send text messages rather than talk, the physicist and expert on the effects of radiation added.

He said that while there was no evidence that children are more sensitive than adults to the radiation given out by mobile phones, the possibility could not be ruled out.

Professor Challis, the former head of the government-funded Mobile Telecommunications and Health Research programme (MTHR), said: ‘I think it is plausible because their immune system is still developing and we do know that children are more sensitive to other things, for example ultra-violet light.






'If a child is exposed to excessive sunlight, they are more likely to get skin cancer than an adult exposed to the same amount.


They are more sensitive to pollutants. There is a thinking that they might be at increased risk.’


He acknowledged that some parents may get peace of mind from giving their young child a mobile phone.


But he added: ‘I don’t see why with young children one shouldn’t be a little bit more firm as a parent and say there are reasons why they think it is not a good idea, unless there are specific safety reasons why it needs to be done.’


The recommendations come as the MTHR, of which he is still a member, launches a 30-year study tracking the mobile phone use and health of 250,000 Europeans, including 100,000 Britons.


Data on the number of calls and their duration will be compared with health records to determine if the mobiles trigger or exacerbate cancers, including those of the ear, skin and brain.


The multi-million-pound study will also look at whether they raise the chances of neurological diseases such as Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s and multiple sclerosis, as well as strokes and heart disease and less serious conditions such as headaches and disturbed sleep.


No previous study has lasted as long or looked at such a wide range of diseases. The first results will be available in five years. It will also be the first time that data on call frequency and length will be provided directly by the mobile phone companies.

Past studies have relied on people remembering how much they used their phones, which can provide unreliable results.


The researchers, from , said the results of the work done up until now have been ‘reassuring’. But because dismarketeases such as cancer take many years to develop, and many people have only had mobile phones for about a decade, there are ‘ important gaps in our knowledge’.


More than half of under-tens now own a mobile, with some handsets specifically designed for children as young as four.


Graham Philips, of mobile phone industry watchdog Powerwatch, said: ‘In an ideal world, mobile phones would never have hit the until we had a lot more testing but everyone assumed they were safe.


‘They are here now and all sorts of people and businesses rely on them. However, far more money and effort should be put into looking at whether there is an effect on health, and just how big it is.’


But John Cooke, executive director of the Mobile Operators Association, which represents the industry, said: ‘The advice from  is that there is no need for any special precautions for the use of mobile phones for adults or children.


‘If parents are concerned, they can encourage their children to keep calls short, or use hands-free devices.


‘Parents need to weigh up the tangible security benefits provided by this technology against the possibility of future unknown health effects.’


Professor Challis was vice-chairman of the Stewart Committee, whose report formed the basis of official advice which states that ‘excessive use’ of mobiles by children should be discouraged.




Statement to Parents:

"The Cavi Society, along with a group of concerned parents, are dismayed to see that the document issued by Solihull Council regarding their policy on Wifi in borough schools, appears to be biased in favour of Wifi and is without the necessary caveats that we would have thought desirable.We invite parents to judge for themselves, and in the light of all the information available to them on our links page, to come to their own conclusions. A detailed analysis of our view will appear here shortly."

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