Using a Mobile Phone During Pregnancy: What Research Shows Its Impacts on Children

Based on the results of five reviewed studies, we suggest trying to minimize the usage of mobile phones during pregnancy, but don’t worry too much about its impact on the baby if is necessary to use it.

Here are the findings of five studies: Prenatal maternal usage of mobile phones is not linked to the baby’s developmental delay during infanthood and toddlerhood. It is still inconclusive whether prenatal usage of mobile phones leads to children's emotional and behavioral problems. Two studies indicated that prenatal mobile phone usage was associated with children's behavioral problems at age 7 including emotional problems and hyperactivity, while another study showed no evidence of this, and another was inconclusive because of confounding factors.  

Created on November 21 2015 at 08: 00 AM


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Details of Scientific Answers: Click on each bullet to Read References

References:

1: "Prenatal And Postnatal Exposure To Cell Phone Use And Behavioral Problems In Children," Epidemiology, 2008, by HA Divan, L Kheifets, C Obel, J Olsen. (Citations: 133).

Background: The World Health Organization has emphasized the need for research into the possible effects of radiofrequency fields in children. We examined the association between prenatal and post-natal exposure to cell phones and behavioral problems in young children. Methods: Mothers were recruited to the Danish National Birth Cohort early in pregnancy. When the children of those pregnancies reached 7 years of age in 2005 and 2006, mothers were asked to complete a questionnaire regarding the current health and behavioral status of children, as well as past exposure to cell phone use. Mothers evaluated the child’s behavior problems using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire. Results: Mothers of 13,159 children completed the follow-up questionnaire reporting their use of cell phones during pregnancy as well as current cell phone use by the child. Greater odds ratios for behavioral problems were observed for children who had possible prenatal or postnatal exposure to cell phone use. After adjustment for potential confounders, the odds ratio for a higher overall behavioral problems score was 1.80 (95% confidence interval 1.45–2.23) in children with both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones. Conclusions: Exposure to cell phones prenatally—and, to a lesser degree, postnatally—was associated with behavioral difficulties such as emotional and hyperactivity problems around the age of school entry. These associations may be noncausal and may be due to unmeasured confounding. If real, they would be of public health concern given the widespread use of this technology.


2: "Cell phone use and behavioural problems in young children," Journal of epidemiology and community health, 2012, by Divan, H. A., Kheifets, L., Obel, C., & Olsen, J.. (Citations: 36).

Background Potential health effects of cell phone use in children have not been adequately examined. As children are using cell phones at earlier ages, research among this group has been identified as the highest priority by both national and international organisations. The authors previously reported results from the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC), which looked at prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phone use and behavioural problems at age 7 years. Exposure to cell phones prenatally, and to a lesser degree postnatally, was associated with more behavioural difficulties. The original analysis included nearly 13 000 children who reached age 7 years by November 2006. Methods To see if a larger, separate group of DNBC children would produce similar results after considering additional confounders, children of mothers who might better represent current users of cell phones were analysed. This ‘new’ dataset consisted of 28 745 children with completed Age-7 Questionnaires to December 2008. Results The highest OR for behavioural problems were for children who had both prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones compared with children not exposed during either time period. The adjusted effect estimate was 1.5 (95% CI 1.4 to 1.7). Conclusions The findings of the previous publication were replicated in this separate group of participants demonstrating that cell phone use was associated with behavioural problems at age 7 years in children, and this association was not limited to early users of the technology. Although weaker in the new dataset, even with further control for an extended set of potential confounders, the associations remained.


3: "Prenatal Exposure To Cell Phone Use And Neurodevelopment At 14 Months," Epidemiology, 2010, by M Vrijheid, D Martinez, J Forns, M Guxens, J Julvez. (Citations: 18).

Background: Recently, an association was reported between prenatal and postnatal exposure to cell phones and neurobehavioral problems in children at the age of 7 years. Methods: A birth cohort was established in Sabadell, Spain between 2004 and 2006. Mothers completed questions about cell phone use in week 32 of the pregnancy (n = 587). Neurodevelopment of their children was tested at age 14 months using the Bayley Scales of Infant Development (n = 530). Results: We observed only small differences in neurodevelopment scores between the offspring of cell phone users and nonusers. Those of users had higher mental development scores and lower psychomotor development scores, which may be due to unmeasured confounding. There was no trend with amount of cell phone use within users. Conclusion: This study gives little evidence for an adverse effect of maternal cell phone use during pregnancy on the early neurodevelopment of offspring.


4: "Maternal Cell Phone And Cordless Phone Use During Pregnancy And Behaviour Problems In 5-Year-Old Children," Journal of epidemiology and community health, 2013, by M Guxens, M Van Eijsden, R Vermeulen. (Citations: 9).

Background A previous study found an association between maternal cell phone use during pregnancy and maternal-reported child behaviour problems at age 7. Together with cell phones, cordless phones represent the main exposure source of radiofrequency-electromagnetic fields to the head. Therefore, we assessed the association between maternal cell phone and cordless phone use during pregnancy and teacher-reported and maternal-reported child behaviour problems at age 5. Methods The study was embedded in the Amsterdam Born Children and their Development study, a population-based birth cohort study in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (2003–2004). Teachers and mothers reported child behaviour problems using the Strength and Difficulties Questionnaire at age 5. Maternal cell phone and cordless phone use during pregnancy was asked when children were 7 years old. Results A total of 2618 children were included. As compared to non-users, those exposed to prenatal cell phone use showed an increased but non-significant association of having teacher-reported overall behaviour problems, although without dose-response relationship with the number of calls (OR=2.12 (95% CI 0.95 to 4.74) for <1 call/day, OR=1.58 (95% CI 0.69 to 3.60) for 1–4 calls/day and OR=2.04 (95% CI 0.86 to 4.80) for ≥5 calls/day). ORs for having teacher-reported overall behaviour problems across categories of cordless phone use were below 1 or close to unity. Associations of maternal cell phone and cordless phone use with maternal-reported overall behaviour problems remained non-significant. Non-significant associations were found for the specific behaviour problem subscales. Conclusion Our results do not suggest that maternal cell phone or cordless phone use during pregnancy increases the odds of behaviour problems in their children.


References:

1: "Prenatal Cell Phone Use And Developmental Milestone Delays Among Infants," Scandinavian journal of work, environment & health, 2011, by HA Divan, L Kheifets, J Olsen. (Citations: 10).

Objective The aim of this study was to examine if prenatal use of cell phones by pregnant mothers is associated with developmental milestones delays among offspring up to 18 months of age. Methods Our work is based upon the Danish National Birth Cohort (DNBC), which recruited pregnant mothers from 1996–2002, and was initiated to collect a variety of detailed information regarding in utero exposures and various health outcomes. At the end of 2008, over 41000 singleton, live births had been followed with the Age-7 questionnaire, which collected cell-phone-use exposure for mothers during pregnancy. Outcomes for developmental milestones were obtained from telephone interviews completed by mothers at age 6- and 18-months postpartum. Results A logistic regression model estimated the odds ratios (OR) for developmental milestone delays, adjusted for potential confounders. Less than 5% of children at age 6 and 18 months had cognitive/language or motor developmental delays. At 6 months, the adjusted OR was 0.8 [95% confidence interval (95% CI) 0.7–1.0] for cognitive/language delay and 0.9 (95% CI 0.8–1.1) for motor development delay. At 18 months, the adjusted OR were 1.1 (95% CI 0.9–1.3) and 0.9 (95% CI 0.8–1.0) for cognitive/language and motor development delay, respectively. Conclusions No evidence of an association between prenatal cell phone use and motor or cognitive/language developmental delays among infants at 6 and 18 months of age was observed. Even when considering dose–response associations for cell phone use, associations were null.



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