Cell Phone Radiation &
Pregnancy: Risks for Child? Part 1
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Cell Phone Radiation Protection
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Reviewed by Laura J. Martin, MD
Dec. 6, 2010 -- Exposure to cell phones before birth and
afterward may increase a child's risk for developing certain
behavioral problems, including hyperactivity, inattention,
and problems getting along with peers, a study suggests.
The study is published online in the Journal of Epidemiology
and Community Health.
The new research does have limitations; the study
researchers point out that there aren't enough data to say
how, or even if, cell phone exposure may cause any
behavioral problems in children.
"There are theories, but we do not know," says study
researcher Leeka Kheifets, PhD, a professor of epidemiology
in the UCLA School of Public Health. "Exposure to the fetus
is likely to be very low, so it's unclear how it can
influence fetal development."
But taking some simple precautions to reduce exposure during
pregnancy and among children seems prudent. "Be aware of
your exposure and while the science develops, use
precaution," she tells WebMD. "It is very easy to reduce
exposure by keeping your phone away from body and using a
hands-free device, so why not do it?"
Cell Phone Exposure and Behavior
The researchers analyzed data on cell phone use from 28,745
7-year-olds and their moms who were part of the Danish
National Birth Cohort study. The mothers provided
information on their lifestyle including cell phone use
during and after pregnancy. They were interviewed again
about their kids' cell phone habits and behavioral issues
when their children turned 7.
They found that 35.2% of 7-year olds used a cell phone. Less
than 1% of children used their cell phone for longer than
one hour a week. Based on the reports by their mothers, the
majority of children (93%) had no behavioral issues, 3.3%
had borderline behavioral problems, and 3.1% showed signs of
behavioral problems including emotional symptoms, conduct
problems, hyperactivity/inattention, and relationship
Close to 18% of children were exposed to cell phones during
pregnancy and after birth, and this was the group with
greatest risk for behavioral problems, the study suggests.
The new findings mirror those of an earlier, smaller study
of about 13,000 children from the same Danish birth cohort.
Going forward, Kheifets plans to look at the children when
they turn 11 and see if the findings still hold. Children
will be able to answer questions regarding their cell phone
use for themselves by the time they are 11.
Cell Phone Radiation & Pregnancy:
Risks for Child? Part 2
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