Objective: To investigate the association between estimated whole-brain radiofrequency electromagnetic fields (RF-EMF) dose, using an improved integrated RF-EMF exposure model, and cognitive function in preadolescents and adolescents. Methods: Cross-sectional analysis in preadolescents aged 9–11 years and adolescents aged 17–18 years from the Dutch Amsterdam Born Children and their Development Study (n = 1664 preadolescents) and the Spanish INfancia y Medio Ambiente Project (n = 1288 preadolescents and n = 261 adolescents), two population-based birth cohort studies. Overall whole-brain RF-EMF doses (mJ/kg/day) were estimated for several RF-EMF sources together including mobile and Digital Enhanced Cordless Telecommunications phone calls (named phone calls), other mobile phone uses than calling, tablet use, laptop use (named screen activities), and far-field sources. We also estimated whole-brain RF-EMF doses in these three groups separately (i.e. phone calls, screen activities, and far-field) that lead to different patterns of RF-EMF exposure. We assessed non-verbal intelligence in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents, information processing speed, attentional function, and cognitive flexibility in the Spanish preadolescents, and working memory and semantic fluency in the Spanish preadolescents and adolescents using validated neurocognitive tests. Results: Estimated overall whole-brain RF-EMF dose was 90.1 mJ/kg/day (interquartile range (IQR) 42.7; 164.0) in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents and 105.1 mJ/kg/day (IQR 51.0; 295.7) in the Spanish adolescents. Higher overall estimated whole-brain RF-EMF doses from all RF-EMF sources together and from phone calls were associated with lower non-verbal intelligence score in the Dutch and Spanish preadolescents (−0.10 points, 95% CI -0.19; −0.02 per 100 mJ/kg/day increase in each exposure). However, none of the whole-brain RF-EMF doses was related to any other cognitive function outcome in the Spanish preadolescents or adolescents. Conclusions: Our results suggest that higher brain exposure to RF-EMF is related to lower non-verbal intelligence but not to other cognitive function outcomes. Given the cross-sectional nature of the study, the small effect sizes, and the unknown biological mechanisms, we cannot discard that our resultsare due to chance finding or reverse causality. Longitudinal studies on RF-EMF brain exposure and cognitive function are needed.

Adolescent, Cell phone use, Cognition, Electromagnetic fields, Radio waves, Wireless technology
dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ijheh.2020.113659, hdl.handle.net/1765/131928
International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Psychology

Cabré-Riera, A. (Alba), van Wel, L. (Luuk), Liorni, I. (Ilaria), Thielens, A. (Arno), Birks, L, Pierotti, L. (Livia), … Guxens Junyent, M. (2021). Association between estimated whole-brain radiofrequency electromagnetic fields dose and cognitive function in preadolescents and adolescents. International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, 231. doi:10.1016/j.ijheh.2020.113659