Regular use of mobile phones near young children and even in pregnancy, has been linked to bad behaviour by the time children reach the age of seven.
Scientists in California found that children who had been exposed to mobiles in the womb had a 30% increased chance of having behavioural problems, while exposure in early childhood upped the risk by 20%.
The study looked at 29,000 children who had experienced varying levels of mobile phone exposure. Mums of the youngsters also provided their lifestyle, diet and environmental backgrounds.
“We are concerned that early exposure to cell phones could carry a risk,” said Dr Kheifets, who led the study. He also claimed that social factors, such as mums paying less attention to their children because they were on mobiles, were only partly to blame.
In the study, 3% of the children were observed to have behavioural problems with a further 3% classed as “borderline.
However, some experts are not convinced that the problems were caused by the mobile phones themselves.
“The pattern of results suggests that the observed increase in behavioural problems may have been caused by factors other than phone use,” said David Coggon professor of occupational and environmental medicine at the University of Southampton.
Patricia McKinney, from the University of Leeds agreed. “Exposure to radiofrequency radiation from mobile phones is highly localised to the part of the head closest. There is no evidence to suggest that other parts of the body are affected.”
In the UK, guidelines suggest children should not have a mobile phone until they are 12. You can find out more about mobile phone safety in our NHS guidelines.