Sydney, January 28 : Australian scientists are carrying out a study to determine whether children are more susceptible than adults to the harmful effects of electromagnetic radiations that emanate from mobile phones. The Australian Centre for Radiofrequency Bioeffects Research, partly funded by the Federal Government, has already confirmed in a study of 110 adults that mobile phones cause a change in brain function by altering brainwaves known as alpha waves.
However, there was no indication whether the effect on health was positive or negative.
Experts at the centre are now investigating the effect on 40 children aged 12 to 13, and 20 people aged 55 to 75 years.
Associate Professor Rodney Croft, one of the researchers, said while studies had been conducted on adults, the effect on children had remained untested so far.
"Although there's a tiny effect on healthy young adults, there is a possibility that it could be much stronger in children or the elderly," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Professor Rodney Croft as saying.
Scientists across the world agree that there does not exist any evidence of an association between radiations emitted by mobile phones and adverse health effects.
However, there have been claims that frequent use of cellular phones may lead to headaches, nausea, problems with concentration, cancer and brain tumours.
They Australian researchers planned their new study after the French Healthy Ministry warned parents to prevent children using mobiles when reception is poor or during high-speed travel. The French authorities recommended limiting the use of mobiles overall.
Scientists fear that children may be more vulnerable as the exposure dose received by a child's brain is higher than that received by an adult's brain, and also because their nervous system is still developing.
Bruce Armstrong, the professor of public health at the University of Sydney, welcomed the French authorities' recommendations.
"We don't know that use of mobile phones causes harm to children but we don't know with certainty that it is safe in all circumstances," he said.
A spokesman for federal Health Minister Nicola Roxon said: "We have no plans to restrict usage at this point. Of course we monitor any developments in medical research as a matter of course."