Nuclear Expert: Plutonium in water leaking into ocean is “the most dangerous thing” at Fukushima, it can be carried around world and end up on a beach or in fish — Researcher: Plutonium contamination “a serious threat to environment and human health”
American Chemical Society, Dec. 9, 2013: As the Fukushima crisis continues to remind the world of the potential dangers of nuclear disposal and unforeseen accidents, scientists are reporting progress toward a new way to detect the radioactive materials uranium and plutonium in waste water. Their report on the design of a highly sensitive nanosensor appears in ACS’ The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. […]
ACS Global Challenges/Chemistry Solutions Podcast, Dec. 9, 2013: Today’s solution is a new way to detect the radioactive materials uranium and plutonium in waste water. As the Fukushima crisis continues to remind the world of the potential dangers of nuclear disposal and unforeseen accidents, scientists are reporting the design of a highly sensitive nanosensor that could detect even the smallest radiation leaks in nuclear waste water. The report appears in ACS’ The Journal of Physical Chemistry C. Jorge Seminario, Ph.D., points out that it’s highly likely that radioactive uranium and plutonium have leaked into the soil and groundwater near nuclear facilities. This contamination poses a serious threat to the environment and human health. […] >> Listen to the report here
Explosion and blaze inside protected area at U.S. nuclear plant in Arkansas — Transformer blows in Unit Two, causes fire that was not contained for 1.5 hours — “Loud, ground shaking explosion” reported — Reactor remains shut down, extent of damage unknown.
River Valley Leader, Dec. 9, 2013, 9:25a ET updated at 4:26p ET: BREAKING: Pope County 911 receives reports of explosion at Arkansas Nuclear One […] Just before 8 a.m., Monday morning, December 9, reports of an explosion at Arkansas Nuclear One were made to Pope County 911 operators. At this time details have not been released in the explosion, but fire officials are reportedly responding to the nuclear facility and a fire is being fought. A resident in the vicinity of the Arkansas Nuclear One plant reported a “loud, ground shaking explosion and then saw smoke.”
Wall St. Journal, Dec. 9, 2013 at 2:31p ET: The fire started in the electrical switchyard after a transformer exploded and ignited [NRC spokesman Victor Dricks] said […] The blaze started at 7:50 a.m. and was contained by 9:17 a.m., according to Entergy.
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Dec. 9, 2013 at 11:45a ET: Arkansas Department of Emergency Management spokesman Tommy Jackson said that the fire had not extinguished within the 15 minutes of detection. “The auxiliary transformer exploded in Unit Two, and there was fire within the protected area,” he said.
River Valley Leader, Dec. 9, 2013 at 3:31p ET: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission has activated its incident response center in Arlington, Texas, following the declaration of an Unusual Event at the Arkansas Nuclear One nuclear power plant. […] The Unusual Event was declared by operators at 8 a.m. CST after Unit 2 experienced a transformer explosion in an electrical switchyard. The interruption of electrical power to Unit 2 caused protective systems to shut down the reactor.
River Valley Leader, Dec. 9, 2013 at 3:28p ET: […] reports of an explosion at Arkansas Nuclear One were received by Pope County 911 dispatchers. The explosion that was later determined to be a transformer blowing, caused a fire to erupt in the nuclear facility.
KUAR, Dec. 9, 2013 at 1:29p ET: “The issue was that the transformer itself contains oil. […] the responders made the decision to let the oil fire burn off,” says [Entergy spokesman Mike Bowling].
Russelville Courier, Dec. 9, 2013 at 10:17a ET: Operators will keep the Unit 2 reactor offline while the cause of the explosion is investigated and a determination is made on what repairs are necessary. [ANO spokesperson Donna Gregory] said it has not yet been determined how long the unit will remain offline. Currently there is an investigation into the cause of the fire and extent of damage.
San Francisco Chronicle, Dec. 9, 2013: A mysterious pathogen is wiping out starfish along the Pacific coast […] [and it] isn’t the only weird thing to happen of late along the California coast. Marine scientists have been trying to find out why previously unknown blooms of toxic algae are suddenly proliferating along the coast. The mysterious blooms, including deadly red tides, have been bigger, occurred more frequently and killed more wildlife than in the past. Last year at about this time, legions of big predatory Humboldt squid gathered along the Northern California coast and stranded themselves on Santa Cruz beaches, far north of their normal habitat.
Press Democrat, Dec. 5, 2013: An article in Nature magazine in 2010 noted that the arrival of Humboldt squid is considered a sign “of a system in trouble.”
Here’s a local news report on the squid strandings from last December: A mysterious invasion on California beaches […] they washed up all of a sudden on a 12 mile stretch of beach. […] Thousands of Humboldt squid […] “You just see them essentially killing themselves, and it’s just really weird to see it,” said graduate student Hannah Rosen of Stanford University’s Hopkins Marine Station. […] Rosen said some people tried to put the squid back in the water, but the deep water creatures swam back to shore. […] The animals had full stomachs […] To be honest reasearchers have no idea why this is happening but they think its from ingesting toxic algae […] This is the third stranding in 6 weeks.
Press Democrat, Dec. 5, 2013: [There’s an] unprecedented mass of oxygen-poor water off the Sonoma Coast, a phenomenon that could harm the region’s prized Dungeness crab and other marine life. […] Oxygen-poor water is common in deep water of the open ocean, but until this year had never been documented over the continental shelf close to the Sonoma coast, [John Largier, an oceanographer at the UC Davis research facility on Bodega Head] said. […] Largier said he is “fairly confident” that west coast hypoxia is a consequence of climate change, but the presumed connection is complex. […] The vast majority of more than 400 dead zones documented around the world in a 2008 report are of a entirely different nature, created by [pollutants like] fertilizer-laden runoff from rivers and burning of fossil fuels. […] Largier discounted that factor on the North Coast […]
Phones Carried on Belt or in Pants Pocket May Harm Reproductive Health
Although most scientific and public attention on the issue of the safety of cell phone radiation has focused on evidence suggesting an increased risk of brain tumors (Baan 2011), a little-noticed but growing body of research points to a new concern – sperm damage (La Vignera 2012).
In a comprehensive review of the published scientific literature, the Environmental Working Group found 10 human studies that have identified a startling variety of changes in sperm exposed to cell phone radiation. In the most striking findings, men who carried their phones in a pocket or on the belt were more likely to have lower sperm counts and/or more inactive or less mobile sperm. These findings accord with similar results in laboratory animals.
Collectively, the research indicates that exposure to cell phone radiation may lead to decreases in sperm count, sperm motility and vitality, as well as increases in indicators of sperm damage such as higher levels of reactive oxygen species (chemically reactive molecules containing oxygen), oxidative stress, DNA damage and changes in sperm morphology (see summary below).
Many men who talk on a cell phone using a Bluetooth device or other headset keep the phone in a pants pocket or clipped to a holster. This exposes their reproductive organs to cell phone radiation, and several studies have found lower sperm count and/or poorer sperm quality in men who use their phones this way than in those who do not.
Scientists have yet to identify a mechanism by which cell phone use might cause such effects (Makker 2009). However, the research appears to rule out the possibility that the changes are caused by simple heating, which is considered to be a possible source of some radiofrequency radiation-related health problems (De Iuliis 2009; Volkow 2011).
The findings are particularly significant in light of the fact that infertility affects approximately 15 percent of couples of reproductive age, and nearly half of these cases are linked to male fertility (Sharlip 2002). The number and consistency of the findings raise the possibility that cell phone radiation could be contributing to this significant public health problem and demand further investigation.
Studies linking cell phone exposure to harmful effects on sperm have been done in the United States, Australia, Austria, Hungary, Poland, Turkey and South Africa, using diverse methodologies. In some, scientists compared sperm counts and sperm health in men who wore cell phones on the hip with those who carried them elsewhere on the body or did not use cell phones at all. In others, researchers exposed sperm to cell phone radiation under laboratory conditions. In still others, scientists examined whether there was a correlation between sperm health and the intensity of cell phone use among men undergoing evaluation for infertility.
Among the findings:
Men who carried a phone in a hip pocket or on the belt had 11 percent fewer mobile sperm than men who kept a phone elsewhere on the body (Kilgallon 2005).
Men who carried a cell phone on the belt and used it intensively during a five-day test period had a 19 percent drop in highly motile sperm from their previous levels (Davoudi 2002).
Men who talked on the phone for more than an hour a day had 17 percent fewer highly motile sperm than men who talked less than 15 minutes a day (Fejes 2005).
Laboratory studies on the effects of cell phone radiation on rats, rabbits and other animals have found similar effects on reproductive health (Kesari 2011; Mailankot 2009).
All these studies found statistically significant correlations between cell phone radiation and sperm health, and many found that the adverse changes increased with the amount of radiation exposure. Opinions differ as to the possible mechanism by which cell phone radiation might produce these changes (Falzone 2010).
A number of research papers include unambiguous statements on the potential of cell phone radiation to affect men’s reproductive health:
“Keeping the cell phone in a trouser pocket in talk mode may negatively affect spermatozoa and impair male fertility” (Agarwal 2009).
“Use of cell phones decreases the semen quality in men by decreasing the sperm count, motility, viability and normal morphology. The decrease in sperm parameters was dependent on the duration of daily exposure to cell phones and independent of the initial semen quality” (Agarwal 2008).
“These findings have clear implications for the safety of extensive mobile phone use by males of reproductive age, potentially affecting both their fertility and the health and wellbeing of their offspring” (De Iuliis 2009).
“Overall, these findings raise a number of related health policy and patient management issues that deserve our immediate attention. Specifically, we recommend that men of reproductive age who engage in high levels of mobile phone use do not keep their phones in receiving mode below waist level” (De Iuliis 2009).
“Our results showed that cell phone use negatively affects sperm quality in men… Men with poor sperm quality planning for pregnancy should be advised not to use cell phones extensively” (Gutschi 2011).
“The results show that human spermatozoa exposed to RF-EMR have decreased motility, morphometric abnormalities and increased oxidative stress, whereas men using mobile phones have decreased sperm concentration, motility…, normal morphology, and viability. These abnormalities seem to be directly related with the length of mobile phone use” (La Vignera 2012).
Given the backdrop of increasing infertility rates (Swan 2006), the research findings should be a wake-up call to male cell phone users who are trying to have children or may want to in the future.
Even as scientists continue to gather new data on health risks from cell phone radiation, the findings underscore that consumers should practice simple, precautionary safe-cell-phone-use habits, such as keeping the phone away from the body, in order to protect their health and fertility. Men, in particular, should avoid carrying a cell phone on the belt or in a pants pocket when in use.
What About Women’s Health?
There are no published studies examining the effect of cell phone radiation on reproductive health in women. Such studies are much more difficult to carry out, since they often require invasive techniques. However, several recent articles suggested that cell phone radiation might be harmful to the developing fetus. For example, a 2009 study in Turkey found that after pregnant rats were exposed to cell phone radiation for 15 minutes twice a day during the entire gestation period, their female pups had fewer ovarian follicles (Gul 2009). A 2012 study by researchers at the Yale University School of Medicine found that mice exposed to cell phone radiation during gestation were hyperactive and had impaired memory (Aldad 2012).
There have been similar findings in two human studies. UCLA researchers reported that cell phone exposure during pregnancy and after birth was associated with behavioral problems in young children (Divan 2008; Divan 2012). This line of research is just beginning, but a recent review article emphasized that cell phone radiation might impact reproduction and development in both men and women (Merhi 2011).
New studies suggest that prenatal exposure to anti-depressants, microwaves and cellphones may lead to ADHD and autism. Anneli Rufus culls the research on the choices that impact our kids.
Pregnant? Planning to get that way? The scientific research piles up sky-high on what to do and what not to do if you want to have a healthy baby. And it’s not just a simple matter of putting down the crack pipe.
New studies link childhood problems asthma, ADHD, obesity, and developmental delays with prenatal exposure to everything from mobile phones to microwave ovens to freeways.
“So many things to which we are exposed are such an integral part of our environment already,” says Berkeley obstetrician Laura Stachel, the associate director of emergency obstetric research in West Africa for the Bixby Center for Population Health and Sustainability.
Magnetic fields, for instance. Magnetic-field exposure is typically associated with microwave ovens, power lines, vacuum cleaners, and hair dryers. The children of women who experience high exposure to magnetic fields while pregnant are three times as likely to have asthma by age 13 as are children of mothers who experience low magnetic-field exposure, according to one Kaiser Permanente study.
And the children of mothers who live within 1,000 feet of a freeway while pregnant are twice as likely to be on the autism spectrum as children of mothers who do not live near freeways, according to a University of California study.
According to a Danish study, children exposed to mobile phones while in the womb are 30 percent more likely to have ADHD by age 7 than children who were not exposed to mobile phones while in the womb.
“Exposure to cellphones prenatally and, to a lesser degree, postnatally was associated with behavioral difficulties such as emotional and hyperactivity problems around the age of school entry,” warn the study’s authors.
And you don’t have to be a farmworker to be exposed to pesticides, which researchers link with low IQ and obesity in children, among other problems. We commonly ingest pesticide residue on non-organic produce. From there it enters the blood and breast milk.
“It’s really depressing, isn’t it?” Stachel asks.
Yes, but depression itself raises risks: according to a study released this month, the children of mothers who take SSRI antidepressant medications while pregnant are twice as likely to be on the autism spectrum as are the children of mothers not on SSRIs. That’s jarring news, given another new report claiming that one in every four American women now takes SSRIs.
“Previous studies in rats born to mothers taking SSRI antidepressants showed changes in the young rodents indicating that their brains weren’t properly conducting or processing information,” explains Kentucky physician Rallie McAllister, coauthor of The Mommy MD Guide to Pregnancy and Birth. “Some of the rats displayed abnormal behavior after birth, such as becoming excessively fearful in new situations and an inability to play normally with peers. These are traits that are commonly associated with autism in children.
“Preliminary research suggests that manipulation of serotonin levels in the developing brain of the unborn baby might disrupt the proper development of the sensory-processing regions of the brain, and that maintaining the delicate balance of serotonin appears to be necessary for proper brain maturation,” McAllister says.
Yet another new study suggests that fetuses “know” when their mothers are depressed and that pregnant women’s changing emotional states affect fetal development.
From conception onward, should women sip two screwdrivers per week while patting dogs and eating organic sprouts very calmly, because stress during pregnancy is a famous risk factor?
Some behaviors we know are risky, but maybe not how or how much. Along with all the other dangers linked to smoking while pregnant, one new study found that the children of women who smoke at least 20 cigarettes per day while pregnant are 30 percent more likely to have been arrested by age 33 than the children of nonsmoking women.
Another study found that men whose mothers smoked while pregnant have a 25 percent lower sperm count than men whose mothers did not smoke while pregnant.
Don’t look down: according to that same study, men who were exposed to smoking in utero also have testicles 1.15 millileter smaller than men whose mothers never smoked while pregnant.
Meanwhile, some behaviors and exposures long considered hazardous might be quite the opposite.
For instance, in-utero exposure to pets might make kids less allergic to pets. A study that examined the levels of Immunoglobulin E (IgE), a type of antibody associated with allergic reactions, found that children born into homes with indoor pet dogs or cats had 28 percent lower IgE levels associated with reduced allergic symptoms than children born into pet-free homes.
“The results of this study offer additional support for ‘the Hygiene Hypothesis,’ which holds that children who are around animals and other children early in life are exposed to a wider variety of microbes than children who are not,” McAllister says. “As a result, the exposed children’s immune systems develop a greater tolerance for irritants and allergens. Human immune systems need ‘practice’ fighting bacteria and viruses.”
And despite what we know about fetal alcohol syndrome, one study found that the sons and daughters of women who drink “lightly” defined as one or two alcoholic beverages per week—are 3 and 2 percent less likely to have “social or emotional difficulties” at age 5 than the offspring of women who drank no alcohol while pregnant.
“There are two possibilities here,” says Keith Eddleman, director of obstetrics at Mt. Sinai Medical Center in Queens, N.Y., and co-author of The Pregnancy Bible. “The first is that maybe there is some protective substance in alcoholic beverages that protects these sons and daughters from social and emotional difficulties. The more likely possibility is that there are other differences between mothers who do and do not consume alcohol during pregnancy that could explain this finding.”
That’s worth noting when confronting any such stats: association doesn’t automatically mean causation. Yes, the offspring of mothers who eat only junk food while pregnant are nearly twice as likely to become “junk food junkies” as the offspring of mothers who eat balanced diets while pregnant at least according to one Australian study. But who knows what else is going on with women who feast on junk food or snort coke, smoke heavily, eat conventionally grown produce, take SSRIs, or do pretty much anything at all that might affect their babies?
“Any mother taking cocaine or smoking during pregnancy … may have other factors that lead to smoking or cocaine use,” says Stachel, whose WE CARE program supplies African hospitals with lighting, equipment and power. “They may be more stressed, more depressed, more angry, eating a worse diet, taking worse care of themselves and their children, for example, than moms not exposed to cigarettes or cocaine during pregnancy.”
So what can we control? From conception onward, should women sip two screwdrivers per week while patting dogs and eating organic sprouts very calmly, because stress during pregnancy is a famous risk factor? Numerous studies link prenatal stress with ADHD and low IQ in children. A Dutch study found that the babies of women who had high anxiety while pregnant are 9 percent more likely to have skin problems or respiratory illness than those of women who remained relatively stress-free while pregnant.
A likely culprit is the “stress hormone,” cortisol.
“Moms-to-be with high stress levels have higher cortisol levels, to which their unborn babies are exposed,” McAllister explains. “At appropriate levels and in the short term, cortisol can help the body deal successfully with stressful situations. But at higher levels and over longer periods of time, cortisol can have negative effects on the body.”
These effects include interference with immune function, blood sugar, and digestion, as well as increased inflammation and bone loss. This, says McAllister, “is enough to suggest that moms-to-be can benefit from steering clear of stressful situations and environments as much as possible.”
A raft of research confirms this. So relax. Right now. For real. Far from the nearest freeway. Back away slowly from that hair dryer. And put down the cellphone.
Experts in epidemiology have described as weak a study that found high levels of exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy may triple the risk the child will develop asthma.
The California study, published in the journal Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine, required 801 pregnant women to wear meters for 24 hours that measured their exposure to magnetic fields, such as those emitted by power lines, flourescent lights, hairdryers and microwave ovens. EMF emitted by wi-fi networks and mobile phones were not included in the study.
Checks on the resulting offspring 13 years later revealed that children whose mothers had a high level of magnetic field exposure during pregnancy were 3.5 times more likely to develop asthma than those whose mothers experienced low levels of exposure.
“Our findings provide new epidemiological evidence that high maternal [magnetic field] levels in pregnancy may increase the risk of asthma in offspring,” the authors wrote in their paper.
However, experts in the design of health studies have described the research as having “major deficiencies” and ignoring previous studies that found there was limited evidence of a link.
“There are major deficiencies in the epidemiological methods which lack detail and, for example, specifically fail to identify the proportions of mothers who did not take part (refusals, non-English speakers) and children who were excluded,“ said Professor Patricia McKinney, Professor of Paediatric Epidemiology at the University of Leeds.
“The characteristics of the non-participants need to be described as they may influence interpretation of the results.”
It was impossible to know how representative the study sample was and whether selection bias may have influenced the outcome, she said.
Professor McKinney pointed out that the meters measured exposure for just one day during the entire nine months of pregnancy.
“Furthermore, the vulnerability of the fetus varies throughout pregnancy and most exposures which cause harm do so during a ‘critical window’ and not across the nine months of pregnancy.””
Rodney Croft, Professor of Health Psychology at the University of Wollongong and an expert on the health risks of electromagnetic field emitting devices, also warned against drawing hasty conclusions from the California study.
“Unfortunately, there are too many issues with this paper to make it more than a hypothesis-generating exercise, and certainly it does not justify any concern at present. There are problems with both the study itself, as well as how the authors interpret their findings,“ he said.
“For example, it does not provide a good measure of exposure (it merely assumes that a personal dosimeter from one day provides a good estimate of gestational exposure); it does not describe the extent to which multiple comparisons may have invalidated the conclusions (this is particularly important given that it is a very speculative study which, contrary to the assertions of the authors, is not based on reliable research suggesting an interaction between magnetic fields and disease).”
The researchers were unable to demonstrate that exposure to magnetic fields caused asthma in the resulting offspring he said.
“It is also worth clarifying some mixed messages from the paper: It claims to be assessing relations with magnetic fields in general, but it only looks at a subset of time varying magnetic fields (40-800 Hz), ignoring more prevalent magnetic fields such as the Earth’s (which falls below this frequency range but is about 100 times stronger); and it links these ‘extremely low frequency’ fields to ‘radiofrequency fields’ in the introduction, yet they are not related and affect the body in completely different ways.” Magnetic Field Exposure
Professor David Spiegelhalter, Winton Professor of the Public Understanding of Risk at the University of Cambridge, cautioned that the findings would need to be replicated by other researchers before any conclusions could be drawn.
“This study has the advantage of having measured exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy rather than relying on recall, but the disadvantage that the possible association with asthma seems to be an afterthought in a study of miscarriage,“ he said.
Prof William Stewart, Visiting Professor at University of Southampton and an expert in electromagnetic fields, said the study had “a number of weaknesses”, including the use of meters that measure only AC fields and not the Earth’s DC field.
“This is important because the biological interactions of pure magnetic fields are very small compared with those of electric fields – so the authors should not describe it as a magnetic field effect at all, or mums-to-be will start to hide from the earth’s 500mG field in magnetically-shielded rooms!”
He also said the authors, who used the same cohort sample of pregnant women for an earlier study on miscarriage, did not explicitly say how many health problems they were looking for in the offspring.
“If many other things were checked [such as autism, heart conditions or miscarriage] then the statistical significance threshold should have been raised accordingly.”
CHICAGO – Children whose mothers had high exposure to electromagnetic fields while pregnant may have an increased risk of developing asthma, U.S. researchers said on Monday in a study that adds to an ongoing debate.
Many prior studies have failed to consistently show that chronic exposure to electromagnetic fields – from power lines and appliances such as microwaves ovens, hair dryers and vacuum cleaners – are harmful to human health.
But many of these studies required people to estimate their exposure levels over several years, says Dr. De-Kun Li, senior research scientist at the Kaiser Permanente in Oakland, California, whose study appears in Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.
To get a more conclusive answer, Li designed a so-called prospective study in which 801 pregnant women wore monitors that measured their exposure to magnetic fields for 24 hours.
These monitors measured their exposure to low-frequency magnetic fields from electronics such as microwaves, hair dryers, fans, coffee grinders and fluorescent light bulbs, power lines, and transformer stations.
The team used medical records to follow the women’s children for 13 years. During the follow-up, 130 children, or 20.8 percent of study participants, developed asthma.
Most of these cases were diagnosed before age 5.
They then compared exposure levels during pregnancy to rates of asthma and found that children whose mothers had the highest exposure levels – within the top 10 per cent of women in the study – were 3.5 times more likely to develop asthma than those who were in the bottom 10 per cent.
The risk for children whose exposure was somewhere in the middle – between 10 per cent and 90 per cent – was 75 per cent higher than for those in the lowest exposure group.
For the average population, Li said, children of women whose exposure levels were in the range of the bottom 10 percent in the study would have about a 13.6 per cent absolute risk of developing asthma. Women whose exposure was in the highest range would have about a 33 per cent risk of having children who developed asthma over the 13 year study period.
Some 13 per cent of children under age 18 have asthma, which is caused by malfunction of the respiratory organs and the immune system.
Li said it is not clear why exposure to power lines might increase the risk of asthma, but he said there are several possibilities.
He said a prior study by his team found high exposure to electromagnetic fields increased the risk of miscarriages. And some animal studies have suggested that electromagnetic field exposure can affect immune response, which could increase the risk of asthma.
Exposure to power lines has been fodder for significant debate, and while many studies have found an effect of some sort – ranging from immune disorders and poor semen quality to certain types of cancers – Li said his study offers a stronger argument that concerns about magnetic fields may affect human health.
“”This really needs to be studied,”” Li said. He said there have been a lot of dismissive attitudes about the health effects of exposure to magnetic fields, and he hopes his study – which measured exposure levels ahead of time – will encourage others to look further.
Still, he concedes that his findings need to be replicated by different scientists.
Li said if the findings are confirmed, it may offer new strategies for preventing the chronic disease in children.
Washington, July 28 : In-utero exposure to relatively high magnetic field levels is associated with a 69 percent increased risk of being obese or overweight during childhood compared to lower in-utero magnetic field levels, according to a new study.
Researchers conducted the prospective cohort study, in which participating women in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region carried a meter measuring magnetic field levels during pregnancy and 733 of their children were followed up to 13 years, to collect clinically recorded information on growth patterns. On average, 33 weight measurements per child were collected.
Researchers noted a dose response relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels being associated with further increased risk of obesity or being overweight.
According to the authors, the observed association and supporting evidence provide the first epidemiologic findings that link increasing exposure to environmental magnetic fields, especially in-utero exposure, over the last few decades with the rapid rise in childhood obesity during the corresponding decades.
“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures,” said De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California, and the lead author of the study.
“These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk. This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,” he said.
After controlling for a child’s age at each weight measurement, child gender, maternal age at delivery, pre-pregnancy BMI, race, education level, smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, researchers reported a 50 percent increase of participants being obese or overweight for medium in–utero levels (1.5-2.5 mG), and an 84 percent increased risk for high in-utero levels (2.5mG). An mG, or milligauss, represents a unit of magnetic field level or strength as measured using a gaussmeter.
Higher EMF levels have also been associated with diabetes in humans, being overweight and high glucose levels in animals, and ADHD in mice offspring, explained Dr. Li.
In the current study, among those children with longer follow-up time (to the end of the study), the observed association was stronger (2.35 times the risk of childhood obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level 1.5 mG vs. = 1.5 mG).
The study appears in the current online version of Nature’s Scientific Reports. (ANI)
High magnetic field levels could raise the risk of an unborn baby becoming overweight or obese after the child is born. One more exposure scientists link to childhood obesity is the pregnant mother’s exposure to magnetic fields before the birth of her baby, according to a new study by Kaiser Permanente in Northern California.
Local researchers conducted the prospective cohort study, in which participating women in Kaiser Permanente’s Northern California region carried a meter measuring magnetic field levels during pregnancy and 733 of their children were followed up to 13 years, to collect clinically recorded information on growth patterns. On average, 33 weight measurements per child were collected, according to a July 27, 2012 Kaiser Permanente news release, “”In-Utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in Childhood.””
In-utero exposure to relatively high magnetic field levels was associated with a 69 percent increased risk of being obese or overweight during childhood compared to lower in-utero magnetic field levels, according to a Kaiser Permanente study that appears in the current online version of the journal Nature Scientific Reports (Health Research). Also see, Scientific Reports FAQs – Nature.
Dose-related relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels with increased risk of childhood obesity
Researchers noted a dose response relationship with increasing in-utero magnetic field levels being associated with further increased risk of obesity or being overweight. The observed association and supporting evidence provide the first epidemiologic findings that link increasing exposure to environmental magnetic fields, especially in-utero exposure, over the last few decades with the rapid rise in childhood obesity during the corresponding decades, according to the authors.
“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures,” said Dr. De-Kun Li, the lead author of the study, according to Kaiser Permanente’s July 27, 2012 news release, “”In-Utero Exposure to Magnetic Fields Associated with Increased Risk of Obesity in Childhood.”” De-Kun Li, MD, PhD, is a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, California.
Wireless devices and microwave ovens may be contributing to the risk of childhood obesity
“These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields, from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk. This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,”” Dr. De-Kun Li explained in the July 27, 2012 Kaiser-Permanente news release.
After controlling for a child’s age at each weight measurement, child gender, maternal age at delivery, pre-pregnancy BMI, race, education level, smoking during pregnancy and breastfeeding, researchers reported a 50 percent increase of participants being obese or overweight for medium in-utero levels (1.5-2.5 mG), and an 84 percent increased risk for high in-utero levels (more than 2.5mG). An mG, or milligauss, represents a unit of magnetic field level or strength as measured using a gaussmeter.
The study follows up on a previous study that showed how electromagnetic fields may impact pregnancy outcomes and childhood diseases including asthma and diabetes
This study follows previous work from Dr. Li (and others) that showed electromagnetic fields may impact pregnancy outcomes and childhood diseases including asthma. Higher EMF levels have also been associated with diabetes in humans, being overweight and high glucose levels in animals, and ADHD in mice offspring, explained Dr. Li in the Kaiser news release.
In the current study, among those children with longer follow-up time (to the end of the study), the observed association was stronger (2.35 times the risk of childhood obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level > 1.5 mG vs. ≤ 1.5 mG). Similarly, if the study only considered those who were persistently obese/overweight through childhood during the follow-up, the association was also much stronger (almost five-fold increased risk of obesity/overweight for in-utero MF level > 1.5 mG vs. < 1.5 mG).
Electro-magnetic frequencies during pregnancy could impact fetal development
“EMF exposure during pregnancy could impact the fetal development, including endocrine and metabolic systems, predisposing offspring to higher risk of obesity,” Dr. Li said in Kaiser’s news release. He added that environmental impacts tend to be amplified during fetal development, both in terms of affecting multiple organ systems and having long-lasting changes to physiology, such as to the endocrine systems and hormone receptors.
Researchers examined maternal factors, prenatal factors, childhood factors, outcome measures and other factors that could be confounders. Among 18 factors examined, only family income and childhood habits of eating fruits and vegetables varied among the three maternal MF exposure groups. However, there was not a consistent pattern of MF exposure with family income: women with either low or high family income had lower MF exposure level than women with medium family income.
Environmental impacts tend to be amplified during fetal development
Children eating more fruits and vegetables tended to have a mother who had higher MF exposure during pregnancy. There was no difference among the three MF exposure groups in the average number of weight measurements per child. The proportion of children who remained in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California integrated care delivery system at the end of the study (11 years and older) was almost identical in all three groups. None of the 18 factors examined could explain the observed association.
“Expectant mothers should take this new research into account, but they should not panic,” said Ruth Shaber, MD, medical director of the Center for Healthcare Delivery at the Kaiser Permanente Care Management Institute, according to the Kaiser news release. “We still have a lot more to learn about the impact of the environment on pregnancy and young children.”
Low-fat diets, weight-loss and menopause, another recent Kaiser study
You may also want to check out another Kaiser study published on July 11, 2012, “”Weight Loss Resulting from a Low-Fat Diet May Help Eliminate Hot Flashes and Night Sweats in Menopausal Women.””
Weight loss that occurs in conjunction with a low-fat, high fruit and vegetable diet may help to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats associated with menopause, according to a Kaiser Permanente Division of Research study that appears in the current issue of the journal Menopause.
This Women’s Health Initiative study of 17,473 women found that women on a diet low in fat and high in whole grains, fruit and vegetables, who had menopausal symptoms, who were not taking hormone replacement therapy, and who lost weight (10 or more pounds or 10 or more percent of their baseline body weight), were more likely to reduce or eliminate hot flashes and night sweats after one year, compared to those in a control group who maintained their weight.
Microwave ovens and other wireless appliances may be increasing the odds that your child will be overweight or obese later, a new study said.
According to researchers, magnetic fields from these appliances during pregnancy can increase risk of the baby growing up to be overweight or obese by almost 69 percent.
“Pregnancy is a critical developmental stage that is among the most vulnerable periods to environmental exposures. These findings indicate that electromagnetic fields, from microwave ovens to countless wireless devices, may be contributing to childhood obesity risk,” said De-Kun Li, a perinatal epidemiologist with the Kaiser Permanente Northern California Division of Research in Oakland, and the lead author of the study.
Mothers participating in the study carried a meter that measured the magnetic field that they were being exposed to during the pregnancy. The researchers then studied growth of some 733 babies born to these mothers. Researchers tracked every child in the study group for almost 11 years. During this period, researchers collected height and weight measurements.
Researchers found that low to medium exposure to electromagnetic field (EMF) was associated with about 50 percent increase in obesity risk while a high EMF exposure lead to an increase in obesity rates by about 84 percent.
“This finding could have implications for possibly reducing childhood obesity and better understanding the obesity epidemic. Like any scientific discoveries, the results need to be replicated by other studies,” Dr. Li said.
Researchers have earlier found a link between high exposure to magnetic fields during pregnancy and asthma risk in children. According to researchers, environment factors are amplified during development of the baby in the womb and these factors affect many organ systems and some of these changes remain for a long time.