Mothers' cell phone use during pregnancy may cause behavioral
problems in children.
May 14, 2008
It would not be surprising that cell phone use by mothers-to-be can trigger inflammatory conditions leading to altered brain development in the fetus, which in turn might lead to behavioral disorders later in the child.
The BioInitiative Report (Chapter 8 - Immune Function) reports a long history of studies documenting allergic and inflammatory conditions with EMF exposure. Inflammatory responses to illness in mothers during pregnancy has alrready been suggested as a plausible biological mechanism for altered brain development in the child, with potential impacts on mental health (Scientific American, April 2008, Melinda Wenner). Cytokine production is an inflammatory response in the mother to infection, and may be triggered by other environmental exposures including EMF. Cytokine production is known to affect neurons in the developing brain of the fetus.
Prenatal exposure to cell phone radiation, either by indirect effect on the immune system of the mother, or by direct effect of cell phone radiation on the fetus has enormous public health consequences.
If it is phone-to-fetus exposure that is important, it might be the ELF component of the exposure (from battery switching of the phone) that is important rather than the RF component which is presumably very low. We reported in 2007 that ELF levels from cell phones and PDAs can produce excessively high ELF emissions when worn on or close to the body (Sage CL Johansson O Sage SA. Personal digital assistant (PDA) cell phone units produce elevated extremely-low frequency electromagnetic field emissions . Bioelectromagnetics 28, No.5, July 2007).
In either case, these effects, if true, show that existing public safety limits are inadequate for the fetus.This is one more important study documenting the fact that new, biologically-based limits are needed.
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There are any number of ways that both ELF and RF can affect a growing fetus. I have an entire chapter in my "Electromagnetic Fields, A Consumer's Guide to the Issues..." on EMF/RF exposures and pregnancy. In addition, my first book, "Before You Conceive, The Complete Pre-Pregnancy Guide (Bantam 1989) has a small section in the toxins chapter on EMF/RF & pregnancy.
In a nutshell, effects can be -- as Cindy said -- direct to the fetus through external exposures or through maternal pathways. It can also be through damage to the father's sperm. My hunch in reading the results of the latest paper published on this is that it's a combination of the first two. There is a direct link through the maternal hormonal axis pathways from the pituitary gland in the brain, likely affected by cell phone exposures, that influences just about everything that occurs in pregnancy. The period of organogenesis when most fetal organs are forming is within the first three months. The brain stem and central nervous systems are all forming then. Damage from any number of environmental insults during that very vulnerable period can have large consequences down the road. The central nervous system and brain continue to develop throughout the 9-month gestation but most CNS structures and fine nerve pathways are formed by the end of the first trimester.
There are concerns not only for environmental EMF/RF exposures but also for prenatal ultrasound now done routinely during the first trimester. The original ultrasound technology used a different sound wave pattern than today's Doppler systems. Little work has been done to distinguish the effects from these different wave forms but Doppler to some extent mimics phased array signals, sending sound waves in shot bursts toward fetal tissue from many different angels and time sequences. I have long suspected that the rise in autism might be directly related to the introduction of Doppler ultrasound in routine obstetrical practice. That's when the rates started to skyrocket. Some forms of autism respond to a restructuring of sound in certain therapeutic applications which raises the question -- is abnormal sound sequencing and/or the concussive impacts of early ultrasound partly responsible for autism to begin with?
Other potential pathways of fetal damage are through stress hormones to both mother and fetus, the potential amplification of exposures in conductive amniotic fluid, and of course cytokenes and inflammatory responses as Cindy noted. Stress hormones are also know to affect fertility. Wrote about that in my third book...
I will try to look some of this up and put together a paper on it for the EMF/RF community sometime next week. This is just off the top of my head.
B. Blake Levitt