About the SCAMP study

SCAMP is a cohort study which will follow several thousand secondary school pupils across London from year 7 through to year 9. The aim of this study is to investigate whether children’s use of mobile phones and/or other technologies that use radio waves e.g. portable landline phones and wireless internet, might affect their cognitive or behavioural development e.g. attention, memory, language understanding. SCAMP will be the largest study in the world to date to address this important research question.

What does taking part in SCAMP involve?

All Year 7 pupils in participating schools will undertake a computerised school assessment (including cognitive tasks e.g. attention, memory, and questions on mobile phone use and lifestyle). The assessment will be scheduled during school hours and will take approximately 55 minutes.

All pupils will repeat this in-class assessment when they are in year 9. This will allow us look at changing exposures to mobile phones and other wireless technologies, and assess children’s cognitive and behavioural development over time in relation to these changes.

Who is conducting this study?

This research will be led by Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at Imperial College London in collaboration with Birkbeck, University of London, and the Swiss Tropical Public Health Institute

Which schools have we approached to take part?

All secondary schools across London, both state and independent, and which have a large main intake in year 7, have been approached for participation in this research study.

Why is this research important?

Scientists remain uncertain as to whether children’s developing brains might be more vulnerable than adults to exposure to radio waves that are emitted from mobile phones and other wireless technologies.

The Stewart Report (IEGMP, 2000) concluded that: “...children may be more vulnerable because of their developing nervous system, the greater absorption of energy in the tissues of the head, and a longer lifetime of exposure.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) highlights that: “…it is still an open question whether children are more susceptible to radiofrequency and electromagnetic fields since the brain continues to develop during childhood and adolescence.” (WHO Research Agenda for Radiofrequency Fields, 2010: 14)

Despite these scientific uncertainties, in the UK, the majority of 11-12 year olds (70 to 80%) own a mobile phone and approximately 80% of secondary schools make use of WiFi. This research will improve understanding of children’s radiofrequency exposures and whether there are any possible health effects linked to exposure. Specific ways to reduce exposure levels may be identified to provide targeted advice to parents and children as appropriate.

SCAMP Bio-Zone

A subset of schools participating in SCAMP will be taking part in the SCAMP Bio-Zone. This Bio-Zone will collect non-invasive biological samples (urine and saliva) and anthropometric measurements (e.g. height). These data will provide important and accurate information that cannot be collected from SCAMP’s other data sources (SCAMP school-based assessment and online parent and child home questionnaires) either because it is:

  1. Information that is difficult to accurately report or estimate. For example, we can assess the amount of passive smoking that your child may be exposed to. We do this by measuring a substance called cotinine which is found in urine.
  2. Information that is too sensitive for people to report. For example, we are able to determine your child’s stage of puberty. We do this by measuring the levels of certain hormones found in urine and saliva.
  3. Information which can only be obtained directly from biological samples. For example, we can estimate stress levels by measuring a hormone called cortisol which is found in saliva.

This type of information is highly important for our research as it will enable us to measure several factors (e.g. puberty, passive smoking, stress, and weight status) which are known to be related to cognition, lifestyle, and mobile phone use, all of which are being investigated in the main SCAMP study. It’s important that we take these factors into account in our research in order to accurately assess the effects of mobile phone use and wireless technology on children’s cognitive function and behavioural outcomes.

This is an exciting opportunity for year 7 pupils to get actively involved in live science, meet scientists from a world-class research institution, and participate in research which will benefit the health of current and future generations.

Additionally, if both you and your child complete the online questionnaires, your household will be eligible to receive a £10 Amazon.co.uk Gift Certificate* as a token of our appreciation

*please click here for terms and conditions

Who is funding this study?

This study is commissioned by the Department of Health via the Research Initiative on Health and Mobile Telecommunications (RIHMT), an independent programme of research that is jointly funded by government and industry, and is managed through the Department of Health’s Policy Research Programme.

Find Out More

 

For information about the current government and NHS health advice on mobile phone use for the public, including children, please see the government website guidelines:

If you would like more information about radio frequency exposures from mobile phones and the health protection policy in the UK, please explore the links below: