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Mobile phones: are children at higher risk?

Mobiltelefone: Ist das Risiko für Kinder größer?

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Zusammenfassung

In den vergangenen Jahren hat die Benutzung von Mobiltelefonen durch Kinder immer mehr zugenommen, wobei der Nutzungsbeginn immer früher erfolgt. Dies führte zu Befürchtungen, dass Kinder einem höheren Risiko ausgesetzt sein könnten und ihnen die Benützung daher sogar verboten werden sollte. Empfehlungen von angesehenen nationalen und internationalen Komitees sind widersprüchlich und daher insgesamt für besorgte Eltern und Ärzte mehr verwirrend als hilfreich, aber dies kann erklärt werden. Es wird gezeigt, dass die unterschiedlichen Meinungen von derselben Datenlage abgeleitet werden und die unterschiedliche Art widerspiegeln, wie mit Unsicherheiten des Wissens umgegangen wird. Nach den Einschätzungen der internationalen Komitees und dem gesicherten Wissen über die Entwicklung von Kindern kann geschlossen werden, dass die bestehenden Grenzwerte einen ausreichenden Schutz gewährleisten. Im Vergleich zu den Erwachsenen sind jedoch Kinder je nach ihrem Alter einem relativ höheren potentiellen Risiko ausgesetzt. Wenn daher Erwachsenen empfohlen wird, ihre Exposition zu minimieren, so ist das für Kinder umso mehr gerechtfertigt. Ein Zirkelschluss muss jedoch vermieden werden: Die in der Ungewissheit begründete Vorsorge darf nicht als Beweis für das Bestehen eines realen Risikos missverstanden werden.

Summary

The use of mobile phones by children has in recent years been increasing, the onset starting earlier and earlier. This has led to concern about whether children might be at higher risk and whether mobile phone use should even be forbidden. Advice from highly reputed committees on both national and international levels is contradictory and on the whole more confusing than helpful to worried parents and physicians, but this can be explained. It is shown here that different opinions derived from the same database reflect the different way in which uncertainty of knowledge is dealt with. Based on the assessments of the international committee and established knowledge on children's development it can be concluded that existing exposure limits do in fact provide reasonable safety. Compared to adults, however, children do in fact need to be considered at a relatively higher potential risk, depending on their phase of development. If adults are adviced to minimise their exposure, this is even more justified for children. However, circular reasoning must be avoided: the uncertainty-triggered application of precaution must not be misinterpreted as evidence for definite risk.

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Correspondence to Norbert Leitgeb.

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Leitgeb, N. Mobile phones: are children at higher risk?. Wien Med Wochenschr 158, 36–41 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10354-007-0447-1

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10354-007-0447-1

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