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Cellphones Linked To Behavior Problems In Children

Children whose mothers regularly used cellphones while they were pregnant are more likely to have behavioral problems


RedOrbit, Dec 7, 2010

Children whose mothers regularly used cellphones while they were pregnant are more likely to have behavioral problems, according to a new study published online in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health this week.

The research, which was spearheaded by University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) epidemiologist Dr. Leeka Kheifets, looked at 28,000 7-year-old children and their mothers who participated in a Danish study between 1996 and 2002.

The mothers supplied detailed information about their lifestyles, diets, and other factors, first while pregnant, a second time after their children were born, and then once again when the kids reached the age of 7. The last set of interviews included information about the kids behavior as well, and both the moms' and the childrens' mobile phone use were among the information provided.

"Children in both groups exposed to mobile phones before and after birth were 50% more likely to have behavioral problems, after taking account of a wide range of influential factors," a December 6 press release from the British Medical Journal, the parent of the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, said.

"Those exposed to mobile phones before birth only were 40% more likely to have behavioral problems, while those with no prenatal exposure but with access to them by the age of 7 were 20% more likely to exhibit abnormal behaviors," the press release added, noting that the authors said that it was "premature to interpret these results as causal" but that they were "concerned that early exposure to cell phones could carry a risk, which, if real, would be of public health concern given the widespread use of this technology."

According to Reuters Health and Science Editor Maggie Fox, there are more than five billion cellphones currently in use worldwide, and no health risks have been associated with the mobile devices by experts with the World Health Organization (WHO), the American Cancer Society, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"I am skeptical of these results, even though they will get a lot of publicity," David Spiegelhalter, a professor of Biostatistics at Britain's University of Cambridge, told Fox on Monday. "The authors suggest that precautionary measures may be warranted because they have 'virtually no cost', but they ignore the cost of giving intrusive health advice based on inadequate science."

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