Mobile phones 'may be a risk to children's health'

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Parents will be urged by health ministers to restrict the use of mobile phones by their children after the publication today of a scientific report raising the possibility of health risks.

Parents will be urged by health ministers to restrict the use of mobile phones by their children after the publication today of a scientific report raising the possibility of health risks.

The report by Sir William Stewart of Tayside University will recommend that children should be discouraged from excessive use of mobile phones - one of the most important fashion accessories in today's school playground.

The leaking of the report has embarrassed the Government, coming only a week after an auction for mobile telephone licences netted the Chancellor £22.5bn. Some mobile phone companies were extremely annoyed about the speculation over safety fears.

Alan Milburn, the Secretary of State for Health, is expected to stress that the report finds no conclusive evidence that health can be damaged by mobile phones. He will announce that Liam Donaldson, the chief medical officer, is to draw up guidelines on whether there should be a voluntary age limit on the use of mobile phones, and limits to the amount of use.

The report was ordered by the Government after scares were raised about the thermal effects of mobile phones. Children are believed to be more susceptible because their skulls are thinner, allowing their brains to absorb more radiation.

About 25 per cent of Britain's 24 million mobile phone users are under 18 and the figure is expected to rise with the new generation of phones allowing e-mail and internet access, which are expected to appeal to the younger end of the market.

The report is expected to say that for the majority of people, reasonable mobile phone use should not cause any adverse health consequences, but that the jury is still out on possible links with a variety of effects including headaches, earaches, skin problems, concentration and short-term memory problems.

Last month the Consumers' Association published research which showed hands-free kits - promoted as a way of reducing microwave interference on the brain - could actually amplify the energy and channel it directly into the caller's head. That finding was disputed by the telephone companies.

Stricter planning controls on the siting of transmitter masts for mobile phone networks away from schools, hospitals and residential areas are also likely.

The Conservative Environment spokesman, ArchieNorman, challenged the Government to back the report if it made such a call.

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