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Epidemiological study (observational study)

Mobile phone use and health symptoms in children.

Published in: J Formos Med Assoc 2015; 114 (7): 598-604

Aim of study (acc. to author)

A nationwide cross-sectional study was conducted in Taiwan to investigate the association between mobile phone use of children aged 11 to 15 years and the perceived health symptoms reported by their parents.

Further details

Children who had their own mobile phones and had been using mobile phones for at least 1 month prior to the interview on a regular basis were considered mobile phone users. Children using their parents' mobile phones were also considered as mobile phone users if they can use their parents' mobile phones away from home during day time.
Child's health status was assessed by interview of the parents. They were asked whether they were worried about their child's health, whether they think their child's health was worse than it was 1 year ago and whether they think that their child was more vulnerable than other children of the same age to sickness.

Endpoint/type of risk estimation

Type of risk estimation:
  • prevalence
(odds ratio (OR))

Exposure

Assessment

  • interview: mobile phone use over the past month: reasons for use, frequency of use in 1 week, daily average use, time of day

Exposure groups

Reference group 1 no mobile phone use
Group 2 mobile phone use

Population

  • Group:
    • children
  • Age: 11–15 years
  • Observation period: May 2010 - September 2010
  • Study location: Taiwan

Study size

Total 2,042
Statistical analysis method:
  • linear regression
  • logistic regression
( adjustment:
  • sex
  • residential area
  • grade, type of school
)

Conclusion (acc. to author)

About 63.2% of the Taiwanese children aged 11 to 15 years used mobile phones.
Mobile phone use was associated with a significantly increased risk for headaches and migraine (OR 1.42, CI 1.12-1.81) and skin itches (OR 1.84, CI 1.47-2.29). No significant association was observed with sleep disturbances. Children who regularly used mobile phones were also considered to have a health status worse than it was 1 year ago.
The authors conclude that their study tended to suggest a need for more cautious use of mobile phones in children, although the cross-sectional design precludes the causal inference for the observed association.

Limitations (acc. to author)

Other risk factors for the selected health symptoms, such as lifestyle, physical activities, and stress at schools, were not included in the study which might have biased the results.

Study funded by

  • Bureau of Health Promotion, Department of Health, Taiwan

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