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Cell Phone Exposures and Hearing Loss in Children in the Danish National Birth Cohort

Authors

  • Madhuri Sudan,

    Corresponding author
    • Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
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  • Leeka Kheifets,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
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  • Onyebuchi A. Arah,

    1. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
    2. Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
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  • Jorn Olsen

    1. Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, University of California, Los Angeles, CA
    2. Institute of Public Health, University of Aarhus, Aarhus, Denmark
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Correspondence:

Madhuri Sudan, 650 Charles E. Young Drive South, 71-254 CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095, USA.

E-mail: msudan@ucla.edu

Abstract

Background

Children today are exposed to cell phones early in life, and may be the most vulnerable if exposure is harmful to health. We investigated the association between cell phone use and hearing loss in children.

Methods

The Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC) enrolled pregnant women between 1996 and 2002. Detailed interviews were conducted during gestation, and when the children were 6 months, 18 months and 7 years of age. We used multivariable-adjusted logistic regression, marginal structural models (MSM) with inverse-probability weighting, and doubly robust estimation (DRE) to relate hearing loss at age 18 months to cell phone use at age 7 years, and to investigate cell phone use reported at age 7 in relation to hearing loss at age 7.

Results

Our analyses included data from 52 680 children. We observed weak associations between cell phone use and hearing loss at age 7, with odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals from the traditional logistic regression, MSM and DRE models being 1.21 [95% confidence interval [CI] 0.99, 1.46], 1.23 [95% CI 1.01, 1.49] and 1.22 [95% CI 1.00, 1.49], respectively.

Conclusions

Our findings could have been affected by various biases and are not sufficient to conclude that cell phone exposures have an effect on hearing. This is the first large-scale epidemiologic study to investigate this potentially important association among children, and replication of these findings is needed.

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