Text messaging could pose health risk

The British Medical Association fears that children could be damaging their internal organs when sending messages

Children could be endangering their health by using mobile phones to send text messages, according to a report released by the British Medical Association (BMA) on Wednesday.

The report points out that text or SMS messaging is especially popular with children, who could be harming themselves by holding the phone in front of their body as they type. The BMA is concerned that insufficient research has been carried out into the effect that microwave radiation from handsets has on internal organs, such as the kidneys.

The report -- an interim study carried out by the BMA's board of science -- found no conclusive proof that mobile phones pose a risk to health, but it emphasised that more work needed to be done. "Since the handset is normally held near to waist level for this activity, research is necessary into whether mobile phone radiation may affect different parts of the body in different ways and hence whether there are additional possible health risks associated with text messaging," the report said.

The Federation of the Electronics Industry, which represents the UK's mobile phone companies, played down the idea of a risk from text messaging, pointing out that phones do not transmit while a message is being typed in. "The phone only emits for a very short time when the message is being sent," a spokesman told the Daily Telegraph, adding that it wasn't easy to generalise how children hold mobile phones in relation to their bodies when text messaging.

The government-backed Stewart Enquiry, which reported last year, did not find proof that mobile phones pose a health risk but did recommend that children were restricted in their use of them.

Some scientists believe that mobiles are more dangerous than phone companies will admit. Dr Gerard Hyland warned last November that handsets have subtle non-thermal influences on living organisms and can affect brain functions. Hyland believes that pre-adolescent children are at the greatest risk of suffering adverse health effects from mobile phone use.

Have your say instantly, and see what others have said. Click on the TalkBack button and go to the ZDNet news forum.

Let the editors know what you think in the Mailroom. And read other letters.