Pregnancy and Cell Phones

Do cell phones harm unborn babies? With more and more women using mobile phones to remain connected with other people, it's becoming a topic of concern.

There has been a great deal of debate for several years surrounding whether or not cell phones are dangerous to use during pregnancy.

Studies Into Pregnancy and Cell Phone Use

In July 2008 in the Journal of Epidemiology published a study of mothers of 13,159 children in Denmark. The researchers from the Universities of Aarhus, Denmark and California, Los Angeles asked mothers questions about their use of cell phone during pregnancy and the behavior of their children.

According to these studies, the mothers who said they used their cell phones during pregnancy reported more behavioral problems in their children. The behavioral problems included difficulty concentrating, hyperactivity, and an increased risk of impulsivity.

The study may be concerning to pregnant mothers, but it's unclear whether the study is accurate.

One of the paper's authors, as well as well as other epidemiological experts, say that "it would be a mistake to assume the findings are conclusive."

Dr. Jorn Olsen, co-author of the paper and professor and chair of epidemiology at UCLA says that media coverage of the findings has been off target and sensationalized.

He told ABC News that the study is not meant to suggest that using a cell phone during pregnancy could seriously harm your baby, as some media headlines said. "There is no reason that pregnant women should be very alarmed at the findings we have," he said.

The Problem With the Research

Dr. Olsen went on to say that the intent of the study was never meant to suggest that there's a "biological mechanism by which cell phone exposure could lead to behavioral problems in children."

The results of the study could have been thrown off one way or another, according to associate professor of epidemiology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Charles Poole.

The study wasn't rigorously controlled and was based on the personal opinions and perceptions of the mothers. The information was gathered through uncorroborated interviews of mothers who could have possibly not given accurate accounts of their cell phone use during pregnancy.

Dr. Poole says it's also possible that women who had children with diagnosed or undiagnosed behavioral issues were more likely to report heavier cell phone use as a way of explaining the behavioral issues.

There were a variety of factors that could have also caused behavioral changes in children that the study didn't rule out. These could include exposure to pollution, diet or exposure to lead paint, according to the authors of the study.

Should You Stop Using Cell Phones?

The most important question for any pregnant woman who cares about her unborn child is: Should I stop using a cell phone?

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says that there is no current, concrete scientific evidence that shows the exposure of radio frequency energy from a cell phone causes any adverse health outcomes.

Reports of the negative health effects of the low levels of radio frequency energy released by cell phones haven't been confirmed or replicated, according to the FDA.

Medical experts agree that current studies into the potential effects of cell phones of unborn children are worthy. Dr. Olsen says that the technology is becoming more pervasive so it's worthwhile to study possible health impacts of cell phone use.

He also points out that the results of the study are highly preliminary, but they could provide other researchers with a basis for additional research into the potential effects of cell phone radiation.

Other epidemiology experts agree. Dr. Tim Byers, professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Colorado in Aurora, cautions parents of children with behavioral problems against blaming themselves and their cell phone use for causing the behavioral problems.


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