Saturday 21 October 2017

Children who own smartphones are more likely to have head lice

Just over half the children owned a smartphone or tablet and two in five of these children used their device to take selfies. Stock image
Just over half the children owned a smartphone or tablet and two in five of these children used their device to take selfies. Stock image

Ella Pickover

Children who own smartphones or tablets are more likely to have head lice, a small new study has found.

One explanation could be that transmission of nits occurs when children gather around the devices.

Taking selfies was found to increase the likelihood of suffering from lice - but the risk was not statistically significant, according to researchers from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Questionnaires were given to all parents attending the paediatric outpatient department at the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford, over a one-month period.

Ninety two questionnaires were completed, which included data on 202 children.

Of these, 45pc had experienced head lice in the last five years - girls with siblings aged six to nine years were most commonly affected.

Just over half the children owned a smartphone or tablet and two in five of these children used their device to take selfies.

Researchers found that only 29.5pc of youngsters who did not have a smartphone or tablet had head lice, compared to 62.5pc who owned such devices. "Compared to previous estimates of head lice incidence, our figures were much higher, showing that almost half of children have had them in the last five years, which may not come as a surprise to parents," said one of the researchers, Dr Tess McPherson.

"We also noted that children with smartphones or tablets were more likely to get head lice, which is interesting but we can only guess that this is due to the way that young people gather around them."

Irish Independent

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