Yale School of Medicine researchers have concluded that exposure to cell phones during pregnancy affects the brain development of the offspring and may cause hyperactivity.
The researchers are drawing their conclusions based on studies conducted on mice.
“This is the first experimental evidence that fetal exposure to radio frequency radiation from cellular telephones does in fact affect adult behavior,” said senior author Hugh S. Taylor, M.D., professor and chief of the Division of Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology & Reproductive Sciences.
To conduct the study, the researchers exposed two groups of pregnant mice to different levels of radiation. The first group of pregnant mice was exposed to radiation from a muted and silenced cell phone placed on top of their cages. A call was placed and left active for the duration of the test, which lasted 17 days. The second group of mice acted as a control and were left in the same conditions but with the cell phone deactivated.
According to the study, the mice were exposed to “800-1900 MHz frequency radiation.” What is less clear, however, is whether or not the mice were exposed to the entire spectrum between 800 and 1900 MHz or if a specific part of this frequency was active during the 17 day long test.
After the mice that had been exposed to radiation as fetuses had grown into adults, the researchers measured their brain electrical activity as well as conducted several psychological and behavioral tests. These adult mice showed signs of hyperactivity and reduced memory capacity. Taylor attributed the behavioral changes to an effect on the development of the prefrontal cortex region of the brain during pregnancy.
Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD, is a developmental disorder characterized by the same kind of hyperactive and short attention span. The neuropathology of ADHD is localized in the prefrontal cortex region of the brain.
“We have shown that behavioral problems in mice that resemble ADHD are caused by cell phone exposure in the womb,” said Taylor. “The rise in behavioral disorders in human children may be in part due to fetal cellular telephone irradiation exposure.”
Taylor isn´t suggesting that all pregnant women put down their cell phones. Further research still needs to be conducted in order to better understand the mechanisms behind these results. Once these mechanisms are better understood, then exposure limits can be established for women who are pregnant. Taylor still suggests exercising care and limiting exposure of the fetus to cell phone radiation, however.
Tamir Aldad, the first author of this study, added that rodent pregnancies are much shorter than human pregnancies, lasting only 19 days. In addition, the rodent offspring are born with a much-less-developed brain than human babies. Therefore, further research needs to be conducted in order to determine if the same risks of exposure found in the tests on rodents can translate to humans.
“Cell phones were used in this study to mimic potential human exposure but future research will instead use standard electromagnetic field generators to more precisely define the level of exposure,” said Aldad.
The results of this study were published in the March 15th issue of Scientific Reports, a Nature publication.